It is time to give back to the Ismaili community

Published: May 14, 2015

Pakistani civil society activists carry placards as they shout slogans during a protest against the killing of Ismailis. PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP Pakistani civil society activists carry placards as they shout slogans during a protest against the killing of Ismailis. PHOTO: AFP

“If people have made mistakes, forgive their mistakes. If people have harmed you, forget and forgive. Do not hold grudges, do not turn around and say, ‘he hurt me yesterday so I will hurt him today’. This is not the spirit of Islam” – The Aga Khan IV

“I have lost friends. I don’t know how I should react. Words are not enough to define this tragedy. People who were part of our lives are no more with us but their memories will keep haunting us,” laments Shafiq*.

He is a member of the Ismaili community – a community which lost 45 of its members yesterday in a terrorist attack while they were commuting towards their work.

“I texted him after I got to know about the attack. He never replied. Saif Ali left us with a bullet in his head. I cannot believe it. He was a jolly teenager who loved to smile all the time. He was working in a jamat institution and was good in studies as well,” explains Rizwan*, who lost two of his friends in the attack.

Ismailis are one of the most peaceful, socially-responsible and disciplined communities in the whole Muslim ummah. Members of the community mainly work in education, healthcare and development sectors. They work for their society, irrespective of cast, gender, religion or region.

Ismailis have a vision to bring peace, harmony and tolerance between the citizens of the world, and they aim to do this by serving their society.

The Aga Khan IV, in his speeches, has always promoted pluralism and diversity. He wants his followers to be role models for whichever society they are in and for many regions, he has been successful in moulding his people into helpful, responsible citizens. His followers are apolitical and have contributed towards a better Pakistan in ways more than one.

Be it building a world-class hospital, or a comprehensive education system, this community has given whatever it has to this country and its people’s prosperity.

And what has Pakistan given to this community? A gift of 45 dead bodies.

The horrendous attack by some barbaric cowards has left the community in a state of mourning. The 45 people killed were all innocent men and women and they had no idea why they were being killed. The attackers allegedly fled from the crime scene without any opposition. They ended 45 lives and simply walked away, and no one even stopped them.

But such an incident is not the first of its kind.

In 2013, a bomb blast at the Karimabad jamatkhana killed four Ismaili women and children – and no one said a word. Not even a single protest was seen on the roads after it happened. Why? Because the community moved on – and so did the people. Ismailis thought of it as a test from Allah (SWT) and that He will give them justice. And everyone else, well, they did what they do best, become insensitive to other people’s pain.

This was followed by another incident, where a certain terrorist organisation threatened the Ismaili people residing in Chitral for their beliefs. And what did people do after that? Nothing. They still remained quiet.

I wonder if this attack will lead to the same results as the previous ones.

After the attack, the Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, cancelled his visit to Sri Lanka. Several politicians condemned the attack and a day of mourning was announced. But will it make any difference now? Will the 45 people come back to life with this? Will it really stop the terrorism that is devouring people day-in and day-out?

“A youm-e-soug or Rs5 lakhs will not make us feel better. We want peace. We want security. That’s it. We will keep working for prosperity; that’s the only thing we know how to do best,” says Ahmed*, a progressive Muslim, patriotic Pakistani and a sad Ismaili.

Isn’t it a failure of the government and security agencies that they could not do anything for these people, even after it was known that the Bohra and Aga Khani communities were being threatened?

How many more need to die before our so-called saviours open their eyes and smell the blood?

The Ismaili community might be mourning today but they will rise again – and they will be even stronger than they ever were before. They will not pick up arms and wage a war against those who have wronged them. No. They will work hard for the betterment of society, hoping for something good; hoping for people to change; hoping that they create a safe world for all.

The world loves them because they believe in people, they believe in democracy and justice and they believe in collective prosperity. And most importantly, they believe in Pakistan. It is now time for Pakistan to bring the culprits to justice. It is time to own the Ismaili community as it has owned Pakistan. It is time to give back.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

Hussain Ali

Hussain Ali

He is a final year media student at Institute of Business Management, who is aspiring for a career in news production. He tweets as @imhussainali (

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

  • Bairooni Haath

    Ismailis voted for the creation of Pakistan. Pakistan is repaying them in spades for their choice!Recommend

  • sterry

    All Pakistanis stand together with Ismailis in this time of terror. We know that the enemies of the state are trying to create discord among different sects but they will fail. Patriotic Pakistanis lament the death of any citizen, be they Sunni, Shia, Christian, Bohra, Ahmadi or Ismaili. To date most terror victims have been Sunni Muslims but I am sure minority groups also lament their senseless deaths too. The nation will only become stronger to defeat these cowards. I know of no sane person in Pakistan who condones the killing of anyone.Recommend

  • ahmeda

    How much more u pakistanis need to give…u have already given a lot of it..u can see the aftereffects..Recommend

  • Jasvinder Singh Marwaha

    You have already given it back to them most grievously. What more do you want to give to them?Recommend

  • Arman Jamani

    We gave life to this country (Quaid-e-Azam & Aga Khan III)
    They returned us death in exchange.Recommend

  • Jasvinder Singh Marwaha

    Standing alone will not do. Further, do Pakistanis not stand with Hindu and Sikh Pakistanis who are systematically being wiped out?Recommend

  • Karachiwala

    This is exactly the type of post which is spreading sectarianism. Ismailis are muslims, why is such hue and cry being raised on them being ISMAILIS than PAKISTANIS? First of all I agree this was an inhuman and terrible thing that happened. But my point is that I see people saying we were targeted because we are ismailis. I tell them, you are pakistanis, it is good that you work for the betterment of our nation but constantly repeating it alienates you. Saying that ‘members of the ismaili community’ have died alienates you from our community. And it wasnt pakistanis that committed this atrocity, 85% to 90% Pakistanis were against this brutal attack so stop campaigning and lamenting that Pakistanis have done us wrong, bhai YOU ARE pakistanis! It is entirely possible that a group of around 50 sunni muslims die on a bus like this and nobody would bat an eye. Highlighting this news not over the ‘death’ factor but the ‘ismaili’ factor is only going to alienate you further. So say that 50 Muslims have died or 50 pakistanis have died, we will have the same sorrow and grief.Recommend

  • Bairooni Haath

    A favorite theme of horror movies is that the mutant monster always turns against its creator. This is the story of Christians, Shias, Bohras, Ismailis in Pakistan. Hindus and Sikhs were lucky they were mostly chased out in 1947Recommend

  • Najam

    You must understand that it was not any other random attack. They were killed in the name of faith. They were killed due to their faith.

    They’ve been threatened in the past because of their faith.

    The hue and cry would’ve been if some Ismailies would’ve died in a random attack somewhere which killed many.

    I hope you see the argument!Recommend

  • Danyal

    Bro neither this article, nor any article… Neither did any sit in was done by the Ismaili Community… It is this media that is writting article without consent from Ismailis and the civil society doing vigils and sit ins, not even a single Ismaili joined them… Ismaili’s didn’t even complained out of fear of disrupting peace…Recommend

  • Gul Zaman Ghorgasht

    To date the 78,000 Paks killed are casualties of an ongoing
    war between Pakland and two dozen terrorists outfits. Who
    want to overthrow the govt. Claiming more Sunnis are killed
    in this war than Shias is pathetic, lame and pandering
    Singing the patriotic Mantra does not hold water anymore.
    To date, the Nawaz govt. and previous administrations have
    done nothing to curb the violence against Shias. There is an
    ongoing genocide. The govt. condones and looks the other way.
    Are Sunnis in constant fear of their lives 24/7 ? No. Are Sunnis
    mosques being blown up ? It is only the religious minorities that
    have been targeted and persecuted for decades. Holding hands
    and singing Khumbaya, now, will not help. For years the Sunnis
    did nothing, just vapid vacuous condemnation barely lasting, then
    back to the important task of finishing their lunch. Or was it Nihari?Recommend

  • Gul Zaman Ghorgasht

    Really? Are You sure about this? Are Sunnis in constant fear of being
    killed for being a Sunni? Are Sunnis afraid every day of their lives? 24/7?
    We should not highlight that 10 Sikhs were killed in Peshawar area few
    months ago? Just say 10 Paks were killed? More than 110 Christians
    were blown up in Peshawar 2 years ago? Just mention 110 Paks blown up? About 60 Shias were butchered in an Imambargah in Shikarpur, that would
    be 60 Paks? 22 Zikris were killed in an attack near Quetta for their religion. That would be just 22 Paks? Or the Christian couple that was beaten, hung
    and then burnt by a mob near Lahore. So do not mention religion? Just say
    Pak couple hung and burnt? Same goes for Ismailis? Do mention they are Ismailis? Just say 45 Paks massacred in a bus? Is that a guilty conscience?
    Might be an excellent idea if you pull your head out of the sand.Recommend

  • siesmann

    They are being killed for being Pakistanis as any other Pakistani,but they are also being killed for being Ismailis .That is the differenceRecommend

  • guest

    Are we the Nation following the spirit of Islam? forgiving and forgetting and not holding grudges against each other. ???Recommend

  • Jasvinder Singh Marwaha

    Is not holding grudges against each other only between Muslims or it can be not holding grudges against Muslims and Non-Muslims?Recommend

  • Imran Ali Khan

    The security Agencies reacted in a strange way they conducted meetings and press conferences to blame Indian agency was involved in all this tragic incident. Where were our intelligence agencies they are still busy in mission of picking people from various parts.The security agencies have not accepted their failure in protection of this safoora incident.They always diverted attention of people instead of accepting their failures.General Athar stated on the media that opponent are targetting their fault lines if you aware with your fault lines then who will provide us protection CIA or someone else.Pointing out security agencies negligence is a crime in Pakistan but they are sucking our blood on the name of defense. How they are defending us against terrorist?Recommend

  • sheetal patel

    Thanx Gul zaman! Very intelligent response to an absurd statement coming from a truly guilty conscience.Recommend