Stories about sectarian killings

The South Korean president did not ‘condemn’ the ferry accident, she apologised for it

About a month and a half ago, a group of students and teachers left their school for a field trip; hundreds of excited students were part of this trip, they were headed to a popular island resort at Jeju. However, when they returned, the group was short of 300 people, mostly students – students who had drowned at sea. Yes, I am talking about the South Korean ferry accident that took place on April 16, 2014, when a 6,825-tonne Sewol, with 476 people on board, sank near the country’s southern coast. Can you even imagine the loss the parents of those children must ...

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A numbness to murder

The murder on a mundane Monday morning was as meaningless as the murder on a tedious Tuesday morning. The details, however, differ in terms of bullet count. Dr Mehdi Ali Qamar, an Ahmadi cardiologist based in the United States was visiting Pakistan to carry out voluntary work at a local hospital. On Monday morning, May 26, 2014, he was shot 11 times while he was visiting a cemetery in the town of Chenab Nagar. On the other hand, Professor Shabbir Hussain Shah was a student service director at the University of Gujrat and a Shia by sect. On Tuesday morning, November 19, 2013, the bullets ...

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A letter to the prime minister: My neighbour was killed, Sir, will I be killed too?

Dear Mr Prime Minister, My neighbour was shot yesterday. I heard cries erupt all over the house, when the news of his death was conveyed to his loved ones. He was a simple man, taking care of a family of four. One wonders why anyone would want to kill someone so harmless. People say he was shot because of his sect. But, I guess that is not so important to you. Why would my neighbour or I be important? Millions of harmless men, such as these, die each day and it breaks my heart to see this harmless man’s family in pain. But that is not ...

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How is Pakistan doing, you ask? Why don’t you ask the victims of Abbas Town?

“Oh you’re from Pakistan? How is your country doing?”  Asked a classmate here at the London School of Economics (LSE) two weeks ago.  The question took me back to a different time… somewhere in the past, someday not too long ago, when I had gone with a few friends to visit a locality in Karachi called Abbas Town. “This wall will fall unto this wall, this pillar on this pillar and then, we’ll all die…” Said a little boy sitting on a plastic chair in a hall with paints on his hands. That was a normal conversation and imagination for him. He had lost ...

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Lessons from Abbas Town: Stick together, whether you are Shia or Sunni

In a town where Shias and Sunnis had lived together peacefully for years, worshipped just down the street from one another, played cricket and often sat together in the evenings to chat, a sign survived amongst the rubble which read in Urdu, “A Muslim is a brother to another Muslim.” It symbolised the brotherhood of the town’s Shias and Sunnis. It was such a town in Karachi, home to outspoken women and communal harmony that was struck by terror one year ago today. “It looks like Israel bombarded Palestine,” exclaimed one man from Abbas Town as residents had approached Hamid Mir with one heart-wrenching account ...

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I am sorry Mr Policeman, you deserve better…

This year, like preceding years, began with massive bloodshed. There have been targeted killings of civilians in the south, sectarian killings in the west and militants in the north of Pakistan. Amid these killings we lost a very brave policeman – Chaudhry Aslam. His death was another gloomy reminder of the continuous attack on our police force as well as our lack of empathy and recognition for their work. In January alone 26 policemen have been killed in Karachi, while in Peshawar another six have been killed and the month is not even over yet. And scores of policemen continue to be injured and killed across the country every day. Unfortunately, only one ...

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Lest we forget: Remembering the victims of the 2013 Hazara massacre

When Aslam Raisani, the then chief minister of Balochistan, was asked about the Mastung massacre in September 2011, he replied, “The population of Balochistan is in millions, 40 dead in Mastung is no big deal.” When asked about what he would do for the grieving families of the victims, he replied, “I can send a truckload of tissue papers for them to wipe away their tears.” Horrific as this may sound, the Mastung massacre was not the bloodiest day in the long history of Shia killings in the Hazara community. That ‘honour’ goes to the massacre on January 10, 2013 in Quetta where over 100 people were killed ...

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Ancholi blasts: When will we remember that the white in Pakistan’s flag represents minorities?

Another bomb blast; another attack on the Shia community. The blast in Ancholi, Federal B Area was so loud that my windows shook and the children woke up even though I live miles away. I shudder to think what must have happened to those near its epicentre. I have walked in those streets, bought things from the stores now destroyed, spoken to the residents in years past and played cricket with one of the dead victims. Now it has been reduced to rubble and dust, and become another statistic in the growing litany of acts of violence against a besieged minority. The true ...

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I remember a Muharram in Quetta when we lived peacefully…

Gone are the days when Muharram was observed by nearly all Muslims belonging to different sects of Islam. Now it is observed strictly under security from law enforcement agencies. In Quetta, my neighbourhood used to be an example of religious harmony; non-Shiite Baloch, Brahvi and Pashtoon, all honoured the religious sentiments attached to the month of Muharram. Playing football, flying kites and sharing our lunches with our friends, regardless of what sect they came from, was a part of my everyday life as a child. There was no objection from my elders regarding my routine as they used to socialise with our ...

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Triggering sectarian violence in Kashmir won’t help, India, we still want freedom!

The wave of sectarian clashes struck occupied Kashmir in the already troubled times when many were mourning the martyrs of the Ramban killings. It was a few weeks ago when news from occupied Kashmir started flooding my Twitter and Facebook newsfeed. Many people protesting against the desecration of the Holy Quran and a local mosque by Indian Forces in Budgam lost their lives. This incident took place when some unarmed protesters were chanting slogans against the Indian Army; the crowd was showered with bullets that silenced them. While the grief stricken families of the deceased were still wiping their tears, the ...

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