How do you live in a country that’s killing you?

Published: January 12, 2013

The parents and grandparents of these martyrs have refused to bury them. Instead, they're sitting with their sons' bodies in the street. PHOTO: PPI

I’m not in Pakistan at the moment, but whenever I travel I leave my heart behind in its hands for safekeeping. I keep thinking about it, like a woman thinks about her beloved, talking to people about it, looking for news about its well-being.

So it was with horror that I learned about the bombing in Quetta on January 10 that killed nearly a hundred Shias as they were at a religious gathering. On the same day, bombs went off in Swat and Karachi, killing yet more innocent people. We lost a wonderful human rights activist, Irfan Ali, who had attended last year’s Social Media Mela in Karachi and left a huge impression on everyone who heard him speak there. We lost scores of other young people for no reason but that they were Shia. Militant groups Laskhar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah Sahaba have vowed to undertake more attacks, probably until every last Shia in Pakistan is either dead or driven away.

They have threatened attacks on doctors if they treat the wounded, who are now lying unattended in Quetta’s hospitals like the living dead.

The parents and grandparents of these martyrs have refused to bury them. Instead, they’re sitting with their sons’ bodies in the street. But their grief has a backbone of steel, as they are protesting the lack of security. They will not move, they say, until the Army takes over Quetta and ensures their safety. I read an account of how the smell of death is strong in the air, keens and wails of grief ringing in eerie echoes.

This is what Qayamat looks like.

For the first time in many years I’m wondering about Pakistan’s future. Because while they are physically killing the weak and the vulnerable – the Shias, the Christians, the Hindus, the Ahmedis – the rest of us are suffering from this cancer too. We cannot be healthy when parts of our body are being amputated in the most brutal way. We are mortally ill with hatred and fear and the doctors are refusing to treat us, instead concentrating on how they can become more powerful and more rich. They play games with politics and the Constitution and changing bedfellows while we die a little more every day: ten here, two dozen there, half a dozen more elsewhere.

How do you live in a country that’s killing you, bit by bit?

I don’t know. But I suspect we’re all about to find out.

This post originally appeared here.

Read more by Bina here or follow her on Twitter @BinaShah


Bina Shah

Author of A Season For Martyrs. She tweets @BinaShah (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Op

    its really painful to see bloodshed all around.. we as a nation need to stand up against this brutality..Recommend

  • Adil

    Absolutely stunning commentary on the state of affairs of this God forsaken country. Couldn’t agree more…. nothing left to say. Kudos BIna Shah. Recommend

  • Uzair

    Country isnt killing anyone dont worry. We are all fine but do feel the pain of our Hazara brethren. Its all inept government’s lackings, they have failed to protect the brothers in Quetta.Recommend

  • iron maidenist

    you can take our lives, but you can not take our freedom.Recommend

  • Bewildered

    “How do you live in a country that’s killing you? ”

    It is like saying ‘Why should I live while there are so many dangerous diseases out there’, instead of fighting them. Recommend

  • Final Solution

    You eradicate the disease by KILLING the causative microorganisms wherever they may be hidden.
    Applying your logic it means Muslim militant groups like Sipah e Sahaba and Lashkar e Jhangvi’s need to be physically eradicated and their safe havens (read mosques, markazs’) razed.
    Will you be part in this eradication procedure because I certainly am.Recommend

  • Milestogo

    Those who spread violence can not be Muslims.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Well planned terrorism was used against Hindus and Sikhs before in witch government also participated. Terrorism was used against Afghanistan, Bangladesh. At that time various sects of Muslims were united. Still terrorists leaders collect money in the name of charity and work with ISI to kill innocent people in India. Seems no one cares. Mullahs have more power then military leaders of elected Government of Pakistan.

    Shias need to take their plight to International media. Every time Shias are attacked there should be protests in DC, Paris, UK, Canada.

    My sympathies are with Shia families. I urge Shias to accept Ahmadis as normal human beings with a right to peacefully.Recommend

  • mokh

    “For those whom God to ruin has design’d, He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.”John Dryden

    I am a foreigner living in Pakistan for over 30 years-indeed I think I am Pakistani although needlessly to say that is not how I am seen by the majority.
    I love this country with all my heart but until the people step back from their prejudices hope is fast dwindling for the survival of this land.
    It is no ones business but their own and Allah,s as to their beliefs, ethnicity,language…-instead look to your own character and try to improve yourself and help your neighbours no matter what their origins.

    I have seen people here change in their behaviour to others over the years until the true spirit of humanity has gone from here.
    Take heed-time is fast running out-the killings wont stop until we stop themRecommend

  • Rehan

    You don’t. Pakistan is nothing more than a failed experiment. It’s time people realized that.Recommend

  • nabeel

    Chief justice takes notice of a minor slap…but has not the time to take notice of thousands of shia killings……Raisani says that i will send a truck load of tissues to the victim families…..The law minister of Punjab who is supposed to protect the people is with the killers Sipahe sahaba chanting “death to shias”…….army is ignoring these killings due to some sort of “strategic depth”………..Popular leader Imran khan is propagating his popular anti american mantra just to gain more support of these killers………Media which was supposed to highlight these killings is more concerned about some long march…….Yes the state is killing us…any doubts? Recommend

  • http:[email protected] Whats in the Name

    @Final Solution: Why only selectively eradicate “Sipah e Sahaba and Lashkar e Jhangvi’s”, why not Lashkar e Toyiba, HUJI, and other terrorist organizations. Spare some thought/kindness for your eastern neighbors also. If you think I am begging you. I would not mind if you consider it that way, considering it would keep those fanatics out of business.

  • Parvez

    This is very clearly a failure of the state. In the case of Pakistan the definition of ‘ the state ‘ appears blurred. When it suits one or the other pillar of the state, it declares itself supreme and at other times, such as now, when they have messed it up, no one wants to take responsibility ( can you believe it that the CM of Baluchistan is abroad on a private jaunt ). If this is not a failed state……………then what is ?Recommend

  • Hindu

    Death of Shias is horrible and my condolences. But it’s as bad to live as second class citizen…

    For Hindus, listening to promise of Qaid-e-Azam (Rahmatullah Allay) was worst mistake of their lives and the curse on their next generations. One year after Qaid-e-Azam died we have Objectives Resolution despite 15% Hindu population of country including East Pakistan. And same bad trajectory thereafter…

    I will even dare to say that Qaid-e-Azam is responsible in the larger sense. Do you know how it feels to learn Do Qaumi Nazaria in school. “We (Pakistani Muslims) made a country (Pakistan) which is unfortunately for you, also your (Pakistani Hindus’) country because we (Pakistani Muslims) did not want to live with people like you (Hindus)…” You won’t understand this feeling and this pain unless you have experienced it… When you are 6 years old and tell your Ammi “Ammi one day I will be Prime Minister of Pakistan” and Ammi tells you, “…Hindus are not qualified to be President or Prime Minister of Pakistan…” And you go and cry or get depressed… And your only goal then becomes to leave and migrate if you can…Recommend

  • ancncnc

    @Final Solution

    how come you forget raw/cia funded TTP and BLA…if you people open your eyes accurately you can see everything is breaking in systematic way and without external funds and help the chaos and these issues cannot be Finnish…the root cause of this problem is Government who has given blacksheeps to destroy pakistan from all around,. Dont forget in the same time india is threatening you , usa sending drones on you and political fundded parties like MQM,ANP,PPPP are playing cards in karachi and sold out PMLN is pushing army so they dont intervene to finnish this gov….Recommend

  • Vishnu Dutta

    Ask a minority and they will tell you how to live in country of their origin as preyRecommend

  • R.I.P

    only hope that people of Pakistan might see the light of truth, stop hate hate hate philosophy,and embrace teaching of Islam. Satan has found its ultimate tools i.e. Muslims killing Muslims. Recommend

  • Aria


    Unfortunately…in Pakistan…no one else apart from Muslim people are part of this specific problem…Recommend

  • iLiberal

    Sad to see that Pakistan is indeed a failed state now. Everyone seems to be asleep with this genocide against the minorities. My sincere advice to the minorities is to either change their religion or leave the country because these Muslim animals will never leave you in peace. Is it not sad that not a single statement has been issued against this attack by any prominent Sunni leader. That ought to show that our leaders are powerless and/or in cahoots with these beasts. This country was made for Islam and Islam will be its undoing. Recommend

  • Sunny Aneel

    Sometimes i now think that do we have a right to now call ourself a NATION?????Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Bewildered: “It is like saying ‘Why should I live while there are so many dangerous diseases out there’, instead of fighting them.”

    People are being killed in the name of religion. Nothing to do with a disease. Disease does not look for religion or sect of the person. I don’t think you feel the pain of Shias. Recommend

  • Lala Gee


    “I will even dare to say that Qaid-e-Azam is responsible in the larger sense. Do you know how it feels to learn Do Qaumi Nazaria in school.”

    Brother, I can feel the agony you go through, and I wish conditions were better in Pakistan for the minorities than they are at present. However, you need to understand why persons like Jinnah – a modern, liberal, westernized in every way, “Shia”, known as an “Ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity” – and Allama Iqbal – the creator of “Saaray Jahaan Say Accha, Hindustaan Humaara” – turned into the proponents of “Do Qaumi Nazria”. In my honest opinion, it was the Hindu leadership at Congress who made that happen by refusing to ensure that Muslims in the united sub-continent would be treated fairly in the Hindu majority country (Cabinet Mission Plan). And their suspicions proved true. Please read the summary of Sachar Commission Report “” summarizing the on-ground condition of Muslims in India. , As per the commissions findings, the condition of Muslims deteriorated after 1947, and now is even worse than the “untouchables”, while the condition of all the other communities improved significantly. Here are some of the findings of the commission (please note population of Muslims in India is around 15%):

    * The presence of Muslims has been found to be only 3% in the IAS (Indian Civil Service), 1.8% in the IFS (Financial Services) and 4% in the IPS (Indian Police Service).
    * Muslim community has a representation of only 4.5% in Indian Railways while 98.7% of them are positioned at lower levels. Representation of Muslims is very low in the Universities and in Banks. Their share in police constables is only 6%, in health 4.4%, in transport 6.5%.
    * In the field of literacy the Committee has found that the rate among Muslims is very much below than the national average.
    * The access to government schools for children of Muslim parents is limited.
    * The average amount of bank loan disbursed to the Muslims is 2/3 of the amount disbursed to other minorities. In some cases it is half. The Reserve Bank of India’s efforts to extend banking and credit facilities under the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme of 1983 has mainly benefited other minorities marginalizing Muslims.
    * Muslim concentration villages are not well served with pucca approach roads and local bus stops.
    * Substantially larger proportion of the Muslim households in urban areas are in the less than Rs.500 expenditure bracket.

    Full report is available here “”.

    And if all the above was not enough, see these pictures available on the ‘Human Rights Watch’ website “” how they are treated by the Indian Hindu majority (please read the captions carefully). Also check these links and see yourself the difference in majority mentality in India and Pakistan.

    1- [‘After Killing Them, I Felt Like Maharana Pratap’][1]
    2- [‘They Hacked Him Bit By Bit, Then Burnt Him Alive’][2]
    3- [‘We Dragged Them Out Of Their Houses’][3]
    4- [‘The Smallest Village Wasn’t Spared’][4]
    5- [‘It Should Be Something History Has Never Seen’][5]


  • Arzoo

    @Hindu: Very well put. You have succinctly stated the Pakistani problem in a nutshell. But I can say with certainty that our people will not understand much less listen to the case you have stated. At least the educated Pakistanis see that India have had 4 Muslim Presidents and I believe an equal number of Chief Justices and currently both the Prime Minister and the Army Chief are Sikhs, who constitute 2 percent of the population. But even these educated Pakistanis are not willing to concede that ideologically there is a structural problem in the concept of Pakistan. Nothing will change until Pakistani society takes the initiative to sit down and address the fundamental problem and its’ basis. Only then solutionns will begin to evolve.Recommend

  • John B

    Nazaria like this in school? could not believe I am reading this! Gives me chills.

    What do your fellow class mates and teachers say and what would they do if you do not say it? Recommend

  • Critical

    @Lala Gee:
    You are just looking at the symptoms rather than the underlying causes. The percentage of muslims in India was mere 6% in 1950 and its now more than 15%..
    1.An average Hindu family has just 2 children(exceptions apply),while an average muslim family has around 5 children
    2.A family with 2 children get more access to better education than a family of 5 children
    3.Many muslims,especially in UP,Bihar opt to send their sons to madrassa,rather than to a regular school.
    4.Civil services and Railways mostly take candidates based on their merit,not on their religion
    5.Army is a voluntary service,if 2% Sikh can constitute around 20% of the army,it means that there is lack of participation from other communities and besides army never looks at your religion while recruiting you
    5.Muslims mostly desire for business and enterpeuner ventures than govt job.
    6.The lower economic growth of muslims compared to non muslims is found in many other countries too.Thats because many muslims do not come out of the ghetto mentality.

    Azim Premji is one of the most powerful man in India and his company Wipro has more than 100,000 employees.Just check the percentage of muslims in his company.How many madrassa graduates does he hire?
    If muslims continue their unplanned reporduction and refuse to come to mainstream,they will further be alienated.Recommend

  • Surya

    @Lala Gee:
    How many times you keep ranting about Sachar commission report? “Hindu” raised about a issue in Pakistan and you are talking abt irrelevant things which doesn’t concern him. How abt answering his question directly?Recommend

  • observer

    @Lala Gee:

    Some day sit down with a calculator and count all the atrocities you are so fond of quoting. Now compare all of them with just one incident Bangladesh.Recommend

  • Anoop

    “Because while they are physically killing the weak and the vulnerable – the Shias, the Christians, the Hindus, the Ahmedis – the rest of us are suffering from this cancer too. “

    YOU ARE NOT WEAK! You(I mean Shias) are victim of a natural consequence of promoting hatred and divisiveness.

    Jinnah, a Shia, comes and proposes a Two Nation Theory, which basically means dividing people in the name of Religion. You all sat around on your hands, when Ahmadis were being told, “You guys don’t meet the required criteria to be Muslims”.

    Now, people are saying the exact same thing to you!!!

    Muslims were 25% of pre-Partition India and they held the nation to blackmail and initiated bloody, cold-blooded murders during Direct Action day and the week after that. You are 20% and can do the same.

    Take inspiration from your Quaid. Direct Action, this time for Shias, Hindus, Christians, Ahmadi Muslims and Sikhs.

    Its now an us vs them, for you. You are now clubbed with non-Muslims. You have yourselves to blame for that.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Lala Gee:

    Forget everything..

    Just tell me how many Muslims were killed for ideological in, say, Mumbai in 2012. Or, for that matter entire India.

    This year 2000 people died in Karachi. 2000 in just one city.

    India might be bad for Muslims. But, at least they get to live and not, I don’t know, die; and even make money. In Pakistan, its suicidal to be a Muslim.

    In fact its more dangerous to be a Shia in Pakistan, than a Christian!! How ironical is that!!Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Lala Gee:

    You said,”Don’t worry, you’ll pay back with interest.”

    I am sure when India took most of Kashmir in 1948, some genius, like your esteemed self, would have said the same exact thing to someone sitting right beside him.

    He probably would have said,”Indians and Nehru won this time, but, trust me, we will pay them back with interest

    After 1965 war,”Indians almost gave us a scare with Lahore. We will pay them with interest!”

    After 1971 war, “Indians have humiliated us! We will pay them back with interest!”

    After 1999 war, “Damn those Indians. Even when we try to pay them, they give us back with interest! I will promise that someday, we will pay them back with interest!”

    Its been 66 years, dude.. Still the same mantra?Recommend

  • Islah M

    Lets be clear that Hazara shias are week( and our sympathies are with them) and vulnerable but rest of the shias, they surely are not week. They wreaked havoc in Kurram Agency forcing scores of the people living there to flee after their houses were ransacked. It is very unfortunate that writers, tend to write from their desks without bothering to do any prior research before what they spew out to bemuse masses. Recommend

  • uswa

    well written… there is a limit to everything.. this is surely a trailer of Qayamat. ;(Recommend

  • uswa

    well written!… there is a limit to everything. how many can you kill? I AM SHIA . KILL MERecommend

  • observer

    How do you live in a country that’s killing you?

    Learn from 1947 and 1971 and get a new country.Recommend

  • aj

    we are livin here coz we have no other option..lolRecommend

  • abbas

    My answer is, you stay alive. as much as you can ….fight back your fear . Recommend

  • abbas

    My answer is that you stay alive, as much as you can by overcoming your fears of death. This is how you live in Pakistan . Recommend

  • gujranwala789

    Only one sentence , Pakisani is NOT india and has no interest what is done in india. Pakistan is an independent sovereign nation and has all the right in the world to decide about the eligibility criterion for state office holders in pakistan. We are not interested what they do in india as we recognize the sovereignty of india.Recommend

  • Ghareeb Aadmi

    I wish , I wish , I wish… I had enough money to leave this country and settled down somewhere else along with my family. Recommend

  • Maryam

    My group and I did our presentation on ethnic hatred and genocide, and we focused mainly on other countries. For the final project, we decided to focus on our country, and i think that was the hardest thing for us to do, because we had to actually turn our heads forcefully towards the scene of death and mass destruction, from which we so easily and carelessly turn away, because we want to stay in denial, and pretend nothing is happening, because that way, maybe nothing really is happening. And i am deeply ashamed and mortified, that for us, only facing it eye to eye, researching, looking up pictures, and visiting the affected places and conducting interviews was hard.

    We need to step out of our private little lives, take a stand, and make our voices be heard. We need to pull ourselves out of denial, and give ourselves a shaking, and make ourselves think, that really Maryam, where do you think your country is going to go in the next five to ten years? And when i forced myself to think, i just cant imagine what else awaits our nation, because things just keep getting worse.

    And what is even more worse is that all I will do is leave a post here, vent out my emotional response to what is happening, and feel less guilty about not taking responsibility and not standing up for all the innocent people who have either lost their lives, or are in danger.

    All i can do is pray, and not be biased against Shias, or Ahmedis, or Christians, or whoever. But maybe change in perspective will work like a chain effect, and maybe this one match will light a fire. And maybe one baby step at a time will make a difference. Or maybe it wont.

    Ya Allah Madad!

    Ya Allah help this nation!Recommend

  • Citizen


    That’s the last thing this country needs right now.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Lala Gee
    1. There was no relevance of Sachar committee report in your response to the Pakistani Hindu who is your compatriot
    2. You seem to think that the report is an indictment of India. It is the exact opposite. The report exists in public domain to identify the root causes and dimension of a problem for lower participation rates of Muslims in the government sector.
    3. Has any Pakistani government commissioned a report to find out why 20% of Hindus and Sikhs living in present day Pakistan in 1947 have reduced to less than 2%? Any report on Ahmadis? Christians?
    4. Some of the root causes have nothing to do with discrimination and everything to do with the community’s own choices (larger family, lesser economic participation by women, lower literacy rates and even for those enrolled in school, many getting religious education in madrassas that does not prepare one for jobs in the formal economy). HEre is what Khan, the inister of minorities recently said “Khan said that Muslims don’t venture out, because they feel that they will not get jobs. To prove his point the minister gave the example of civil services exam taken by 400,000 candidates every year. He said that not even 4,000 Muslims sit this exam. The fact, however, is that the percentage of successful Muslim candidates is higher than the general students attempting the civil services exam. Out of 700-800 successful candidates at least 40 are Muslims”.
    5. There actually exists an action plan to address the root causes and raise the number of Muslims in government jobs including 15 million scholarships.

  • gp65

    @observer: “How do you live in a country that’s killing you?
    Learn from 1947 and 1971 and get a new country.”

    Sorry. I can udnerstand what you said about 1971 but not about 1947. Is this new history that I was unaware of? Hindus were killing Muslims which forced them to seek a new country?Recommend

  • Sane

    It proved that unity can make change. . Come out to make change.Recommend

  • zeeshan sheikh

    The jews were killed in a horrible way but no one see why they were killed.

    The same goes for shias.


  • zeeshan sheikh

    May Allah grant jannah who died in Quetta bomb blast. They were innocent

    But they should ask there religious leaders to stop hate speechRecommend

  • discuss

    @Lala Gee: Statistic will prove you wrong.
    “When British India was partitioned in 1947 Hindus and Sikhs constituted about 20% of the population of Pakistan. Now it is barely 1%.”
    In Bangladesh it was 33% Hindu at the time of Independence (1971). Today, it is less than 9% Hindu. Meanwhile, Muslims were less than 10% of India’s population after partition, but are now OVER 20%.Recommend

  • observer


    Sorry. I can udnerstand what you said about 1971 but not about 1947. Is this new history that I was unaware of? Hindus were killing Muslims which forced them to seek a new country?

    That is how Pakistani history books present it.

    The moot question is – If a country could be patitioned in the name of perceived/ alleged/ anticipated atrocities, Why not on account of creeping ethnic cleansing?Recommend

  • TRuth

    I seriously agree with you bro thas whats become of this dysfunctional state of the land of the pure as presumed….Recommend

  • Imad Uddin

    This is the most horrible thing I have seen in my life.When good people close themselves inside their homes, bullies rule and darkness prevail…….n this is what hell looks like.its said tht baluchistans cm used to support lashkar e jhangvi….what to expect from him? why was the operation in liyary ceased? Who will kill the terrorists and who will break their networks if those responsible actually provide shelter?Pakistan needs a much stronger civil society Recommend

  • Fatima

    You DONT live in a country thats killing you. You leave if you can!

    Sad but true.Recommend

  • ali rizvi

    if weakness of a people is blocking up a whole nation on a mere call from its theocratic elders, then perhaps the united states is the weakest nation on the planet- because it put embargoes on the “tough” ones…Recommend

  • akt

    Pl z. Go through all the comments and try to find out the prevailing confusion . The real couse of unstability in muslim community is religion they love with blind eyes and as yughurt said due to illogical claim on Kadhmir .

    THINK SERIOUSLY ON IT and bring logical change under the revolution led by Qadry .Recommend