Do Shias have a future in Pakistan?

Published: July 25, 2014
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So far in Pakistan more than 10,000 Shias have been killed (in direct attacks only). PHOTO: AFP

How this could be possible? I shook my head in disbelief.

“Ibn-e-Raza has been shot dead!” the voice reiterated itself.

How someone can be so cruel, so vicious?

In state of disbelief I stood up, changed my clothes and sat in my car. My mother, sitting next to me, was continuously crying.

“He was such a nice boy, he was…”

She was crying so hard that words seemed to have disappeared from her mouth.

I rolled my window down and took a deep breath as a slight wave of wind touched my hair. My mind was gripped with an ocean of thoughts and memories.

I remembered when he last called me.

“I scored the first position in my matriculation exams!”

Oh! How happy he was that day.

“I want to be pilot, Soha baji”, Raza had told me.

He had told me that he was very close to making his dream come true. His parents were very proud of him. He was their only child.

A picture of Ibn-e-Raza. Photo: Soha Jafri

The parents… My God!

As tears began rolling down my cheeks, the car suddenly stopped and I realised that we had reached our destination. When I got out of the car, I found myself standing right in front of an imambargah in Rizvia Society. His dead body was in there. People around me were sad, some of them were crying. But this wasn’t the first time I stood here. In fact, this was my second time – my second time in three months. Back then it was my brother’s dead body that resided behind those walls. It was my brother’s funeral that I had attended.

He, too, was gunned down.

My brother was shot dead while he was coming back home. The attacker had fired 10 bullets in his chest and two on his face. He died on the spot. I will never understand why he was killed and that too so brutally.

Now, I was back here, in the same spot, but for my cousin’s funeral. With trembling feet, I entered the imambargah. I could hear his mother crying. I went into the hall and then I saw it. The coffin was right there with his dead body in it. I saw his face; it was pale. But he looked like he was sound asleep.

Soon, the funeral prayers took place and then it was time to take his coffin away to the graveyard. He left us all, his mother and his family, in deep grief.

Once all the rituals were done, it was time for us to go back home. I stood up and came outside with my mother. Our car was waiting there; we sat in it. I looked back at the imambargah and wished once again what I had wished the last time I was here three months ago.

“Please, not again!”

But deep in my heart, I knew that I will come back again, to bid another loved one goodbye.

The Shia community in Pakistan, roughly around 40 million, is the second largest religious group present here. Yet, we are persecuted, targeted, slaughtered and killed, without mercy – just because our sect is not the same as that of our killer’s. These targeted killings continue without any decrease in the ferociousness of these attacks.

The 2012 Annual report published by Global Human Rights Defence on Pakistan stated that,

“So far in Pakistan more than 10,000 Shias have been killed (in direct attacks only). In Parachinar valley more than 4000 Shias were killed. People are pulled down from buses, their identity cards are checked, their names are different than the Sunni names [so they are easily identified] and they get killed and raped; women have been threatened and molested.”

Now what is the future of Shias in Pakistan? In fact, the right question is, do they have a future here at all?

Mein kis k hath mein apna lahu talaash karun

Tamam sher ny pehny howy hain daastany

(In whose hands should I find traces of my blood?

The entire city is wearing gloves)

Please stop killing us. Stand against it, condemn it. Do something, please. But make it stop!

Soha Jafri

Soha Jafri

She is currently pursuing a degree in English Literature at the University of Karachi. She tweets as @SohaJafry (twitter.com/SohaJafry)

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