Iran-Pakistan pipeline

It is quite understandable that Mr Zardari felt the project to be of great benefit to Pakistan; for the Iranian gas would go a long way towards meeting the energy requirements of Pakistan where the people have to go through a trying experience of loadshedding lasting for hours on end every day. Mr Zardari was also received by Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who stressed that the project must go ahead despite the US opposition.

Taking her usual pro-America line, in her latest article ‘Not a perfect world’ published in a daily, the writer airs her depressing views about Iran-Pakistan pipeline, saying it is in the headlines again, but for the wrong reasons, and wrong reason, according to her, is that the United States and its pack of hunting dogs, the western countries, are after Iran.

In her self-assured manner, she declares signing of the agreement a political gimmick by the Peoples Party, just to gain some extra votes which the defiance of the United States in the prevailing anti-America public mood will bring. However, further down in her article, she says “The pipeline could also help Pakistan pursue an independent foreign policy, rather than base all decisions around the contours of its relationships with China and the US. The ability to prioritize domestic concerns is a strong sign of political maturity and stability.”

She agrees that the construction of pipeline could generate some employment in Balochistan while it could also help us generate another 4,000 mw of power the absence of which is increasing unemployment. She also declares that IP pipeline is more feasible than the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, and later says “the IP pipeline seems unfeasible for the same reasons as Tapi.” I think she should make up her mind as to what she wants to say instead of just contradicting herself, and confusing the readers as to what message she wants to convey.

Her statement “Western opinion is turning against sanctioning rogue nations” while indicating an opposition to sanctions in the West, is highly objectionable as it implies that the nations subject to sanctions now or before are rogues while the Western nations are all angels. She seems to have completely forgotten imperial history of the Western nations, what Western invaders did to the indigenous population of United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, in short wherever they set their foot. Even in recent times, their conduct in Vietnam and Iraq is right before us, qualifies them as nothing but thugs, scoundrels and murderers of the worst kind. As a matter of fact, two of the oldest disputes, Kashmir and Palestine, which have remained unsolved for more than half a century, and which are responsible for major terrorist activity around the world, including 9/11, are creations of these Western angels. It was Britain that gave the Muslim-majority areas with access to Kashmir to India and established Israel as a thorn in the flesh of Palestinians.

It is also the unqualified support of US and the West that has made Israel the monster it has become which continues treating Palestinians with contempt, subjecting them to ridicule, humiliation and worst forms of human rights violations in their own land illegally occupied by Israel. On the basis of their conduct, these Western nations hardly qualify for the high regard in which she seems to hold them.
Her opposition to Iran-Pakistan pipeline is mainly due to the threat of sanctions but she herself admits that opinion in the West is turning against sanctions because it creates ill-feelings against them. We also know that the US has given exemption to some countries from sanctions and since the US and NATO countries need economical, short supply route through Pakistan for getting most of their supplies in Afghanistan and they will need this just as much while evacuating from there, Pakistan is in a strong position. She could also have suggested that if Pakistan stood firm, there is every possibility that the US would give Pakistan a waiver. However, she feels more comfortable pleading Americans’ case with us, as well as trying to frighten us of disastrous consequences that could follow through defying the US.

The writer says “Finally, Pakistan can’t be sure that the US won’t impose tough sanctions, which could lead to a reorientation of US-Pakistan relations from engagement to isolation, with Washington simultaneously taking a zero-tolerance stance against Pakistani militancy. In response, Pakistan would likely take on a spoiler role in Afghanistan. Such policy shifts would undermine regional stability and forever snuff out the possibility of Islamabad and Washington having anything more than a transactional relationship.

She forgets that our relations with the US have always been nothing but transactional and most of the time, the US ditched us at times of our extreme need, and the pattern is likely to continue, rather get worse in future. In the present round, Americans apologized for their conduct earlier and promised to be different this time but actually proved worse than before. The Abbottabad raid and the killings at Salala post, with refusal even to offer a proper apology hardly show an inclination to ‘engage.’

This time, the whole western gang came up with a promise to help us. The ‘friends of democratic Pakistan forum was launched with great fanfare but fizzled out and we do not even hear of it any more. It was the same with the US. During meetings with the US, various sub-committees were formed to provide us specialist help in various fields, but the committees never progressed beyond promises and in due course, died their natural death. 

Even the project ‘reconstruction opportunity zones’ which was supposed to provide $ 150 million a year for five years for development in FATA was cancelled. Abandoning us, the US is busy courting India which it wants to prop up as a leader in the region, and as a US partner in its ultimate war with China.

This naturally puts us in the enemy camp, based on America’s ‘with us, or against us’ policy. I am rather surprised that despite America’s past and present conduct with us, anyone could even dream that we could have anything but purely transactional relationship with the US: a transaction in which we are sure to end up as overall losers. The $ 70 billion loss which we have incurred due to our association with the US war on terror is far greater than the total aid we received from the US from 1947 up till now and the nearly 40,000 soldiers and civilians killed come on top of that.

Declaring Pakistan’s recent strong moves on the Pipeline project as election stunt, she says “The problem with pre-election stunts is that they are often shelved the moment elections are successfully contested. And that is especially true in this case since Pakistan can’t afford to build the pipeline. Sadly, this counterproductive stunt will distract from more viable domestic measures to address the energy crisis, including reducing energy theft, improving infrastructure to prevent inefficiencies and developing Pakistan’s local gas fields.”

She has completely ignored the strong possibility that the badly-bruised Peoples Party, which could not manage to get simple majority while it had the benefit of ‘sympathy’ votes is unlikely to fare any better due to its worst performance during the last five years. Moreover, some other parties, which boycotted elections last time, like Jamaat-e-Islami and a much strengthened Tehreek-e-Insaf are also in the field now, while MQM is also planning to field its candidates throughout Pakistan. Dr. Tahirul Qadri is also expected to announce participation in the general election by his Pakistan Awami Tehreek, about which he has promised to make a definitive statement in his address in Rawalpindi on March 17. So, even if announced as an election gimmick, Pakistan Iran pipeline project is likely to be pursued vigorously by other parties which are likely to form the next government.

Our partnership with Iran could also speed up additional projects like 1,000 mw Taftan-Quetta transmission line, 400 mw Gawadar power supply project, Noshki-Dalbandin highway and up-gradation of Quetta-Taftan track in addition to establishment of a refinery in Gwadar.

Also, going for the IP pipeline and pursuing other ‘ viable domestic measures’ suggested by the writer are not mutually exclusive options act both have to be pursued to meet the ever-increasing energy needs.

As for the unrest in Balochistan, it is a threat not only to IP pipeline, but also to continued existence of Pakistan as a viable state and has got to be dealt with in a coordinated manner along with law and order problem elsewhere in the country. With Chinese coming to Gwadar, more employment opportunities will be created in the province, and the two countries together will bring the Balochistan situation under control, and soon: this has got to be done, and will be done. With so many new, enthusiastic entrants in the political field now, things can not remain the same like they they did in the past.

By S.R.H. Hashmi

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Saudi /Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’Love-in’

Pakistan’s Hazaras, a prosperous, moderate community who found refuge after brutal crackdowns in Afghanistan, are again living in fear as they suffer record levels of sectarian violence. Overwhelmingly Shias, the roughly 550,000 Hazaras in Quetta are descendants of migrants from Afghanistan, where the community opposed the 1996-2001 Taliban regime but has since prospered._______________________________________________

The Wahhabi were founded by Abd al-Wahab (1703-1791) who claimed that the teachings of Mohammed had been corrupted by decadent influences. He argued that the faith should return to the purity of the Islam of the first two centuries. After his expulsion from Medina Wahab formed a relationship with the Saud tribe. The Saud’s went onto conquer Arabia. By 1811 they had established control and created a capital in Riyadh. Wahhabism became the favoured version of Islam. The Saudi reign was challenged by the Ottoman Empire on two occasions. The last was made famous by the film Lawrence of Arabia. This was to mark the beginning of a strange friendship between the West and Islamic fundamentalism. The British formed an alliance with the Saudi’s to defeat the common enemy, Ottoman Turkey. The result was the restoration of the Saudi dynasty in Riyadh and the re-establishment of the Wahhabi sect.

However, not all is well in the relationship between the Saud royal family and Wahhabi clerics. Wahhabism is puritan in outlook and shuns the ostentatious display of wealth. As oil money began to spoil and corrupt the royal family Wahhabi clerics began to declaim the corrupting influence of the West. There is now deep division within the Saudi society between the supporters of religious orthodoxy and the supporters of a more pro-western stance. 

The Deobandi are named after a Muslim seminary founded in the Indian city of Deoband in 1866. This sect arose largely in response to the perceived corruption caused by the influence of Hindu syncretism and Sufi mysticism. They were also violently opposed to British rule. Like the Wahhabi it seeks to return to a purer version of Islam. For this reason the Deobandi are sometimes incorrectly referred to as Wahhabi. 
When Pakistan and India split during the partition Deobandi radicals became influential in Pakistani politics. It is the Deobandi who founded the madrassas, the religious schools that were the source of the Taliban, Taliban simply means ‘student’. 
The important point to remember is that both of these sects arose as a reaction to the belief that Islam had been corrupted by outside forces, and they arose before oil had been discovered in the Middle East.
As mentioned the Saud royal family are the patrons of Wahhabi sect. The Wahhabi sect has had a powerful influence throughout the Islamic world. Many rich Saudi’s regard it as their religious duty to support the efforts of the clerics. This has included the private and public funding of a network of charitable organisations. These organisations helped fund Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan and helped fund Bashir’s school in Indonesia. A proportion of this money has also helped fund Osama bin Laden‘s activities, pursued in the name of Wahhabi religious zealotry
The common Muslims of the subcontinent have been moderate and the general body of both Sunnis and Shiites has lived in peace. Not so long ago people following the Sunni doctrine used to be seen atop rooftops witnessing Ashura processions. At some places, they also used to set up water dispensers for the mourners. Despite their doctrinal differences, the common Muslim did not consider others heretics or apostates. These are now things of the past.
The Saudi influence in Pakistan and the adoption of extremist demands has led to the unhindered growth of extremism. The country started depending on Saudi Arabia for financial assistance and even involved it in its political matters. The dependence of Pakistan on Saudi aid had a price tag about which the common Pakistani had no idea. The price tag was the total freedom to the Salafi doctrine to set up their religious schools or madrassas without any government oversight over the syllabi. That resulted in the exponential growth of this doctrine, which had a comparatively inclusive strain of Sunnis as a majority. It was conveniently forgotten by those allowing them uncontrolled growth that the Salafis had no tolerance for dissent and had all but wiped out any dissenting doctrine from areas under their political dominance. General Zia’s active support for this doctrine forced Iran to involve itself to assist the Shiites fight the onslaught on them and this made things more complex. Sectarian killing started in his era as a result of operations by militant organisations he let form and the country has since suffered. While in the past there has been some retaliatory activity by the aggrieved, it is fortunate that they have concluded retaliation to be self-consuming, and in the recent past, sense has prevailed and their reaction has so far remained restrained and civil.
The majority of students from madrassas where the dissident is taught is a heretic and thus deserving death have become the backbone of extremism in Pakistan. When terrorist outfits began operating in this part of the world, these very people sympathised with their activities and offered them political support. When subsequent to the terror attacks on the US, Pakistan started its war on terror, it did not concurrently start the prerequisite of zero tolerance for extremism that was necessary for a successful campaign against terror. The covert political support for terror outfits has, therefore, succeeded in dividing the public reaction to acts of terror, as is evident from the Malala incident where a section of society was made to smell a conspiracy, thus making the reaction weak.
February 22 marked the day when Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, the founder of the infamous Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), and the ideological godfather of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — the radical group that has accepted responsibility for the recent killings of the Hazara Shiite minorities in Quetta — was assassinated by suspected Shiite militants in 1990. As the nation mourned the sad events of February 16, 2013, when the Hazaras were attacked yet again in Quetta and more than 90 innocent lives were lost, a twitter post stated, “Ghar ghar Jhangvi utthe ga, Tum jitne Jhangvi maro gay” (A [Haq Nawaz] Jhangvi will emerge from every home, how many Jhangvis will you assassinate?). The twitter message further stated that February 22 was to be remembered as ‘a grand event of the martyrdom’ of Maulana Jhangvi. The message clearly showed that Pakistan’s problem of religious intolerance.

Based on a strict Deobandi interpretation of  Islam, the discourse of the LeJ, i.e. ‘the army of [Maulana] Jhangvi’, revolves largely around the themes of purity and purgation, being especially critical of Shiite views. A central aspect of it is takfir, i.e. declaring members of any Muslim group to be infidels, casting them outside the fold of Islam, and at times, going up to the extent of pronouncing them ‘wajib-ul-qatl’ (deserving of death). This then gets connected to the concept of jihad having become obligatory to put the specific group to death. In June 2011, the LeJ issued a pamphlet against the Hazaras in Balochistan in which all these themes were vividly visible. Words like ‘kafir’ (infidel), ‘naapak’ (impure, unclean) and ‘Pakistan is the land of the pure [only]’ clearly showed the worldview of the LeJ vis-à-vis the Hazara Shiites. The pamphlet announced that the Hazaras would be targeted and killed by the LeJ.
An interesting, and much revealing couplet in a poetic tribute to an anti-Shiite activist published by Sipah-e-Sahaba reads, “He became a devotee of the Companions [of the Prophet (sallallahu alehi wassalam)], and took a ticket to paradise.” In a complex struggle involving religion, history, territory, identity and politics, Pakistan battles against her Frankenstein’s monster of religious intolerance and militancy through largely superficial, negligent and hypocritical measures. Sadly, in a society where tickets to heaven, and hell, are easily available, innocent people will keep on dying at the hands of the violent, self-appointed, soldiers of God. It seems that the monster is here to stay.
The war against terrorism, which is actually the war for preserving the soul of Pakistan, cannot be won unless there is zero tolerance for the cancer of extremism that is consuming us. Doing this requires a catharsis by all institutions that wield power so that mistakes made in the past are identified and corrective action initiated with the single purpose of recreating Jinnah’s vision. The constitution grants to the people freedom of religion under Article 20 (a), which guarantees that “subject to law, public order and morality every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion”, and guarantees equal protection to all people under Article 25 (1). These rights have only been selectively granted. This has resulted in extremism getting further strengthened. Dialogue between people of differing faiths has been killed and people have been left at the mercy of extremists. The reversal of extremism requires that Articles 20 (a) and 25 (1) are implemented in letter and spirit so that the people learn to live in a world where differing faiths co-exist and form the habit of logical discourse. Under no compulsion should the fundamental rights of citizens of any faith be made hostage to expediency. Additionally, hate speech should be strictly monitored. Giving Takfiri edicts and teaching them at madrassas must be banned and offenders punished. Police has a presence in all settled areas and know fully well the places where such words are spoken. They should be made to do their work and the menace tackled at its source. The security apparatus should be made to understand that extremism is the country’s worst enemy and made to act accordingly. They need to realise there is nothing like a ‘good’ extremist.
It is no more a matter of Pakistan’s image. The survival of the country is at stake. Any delay in implementing the policy of zero tolerance for extremism will cost Pakistan heavily and God forbid may force some to take action that may be suicidal for it.


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Quaid’s Pakistan in the hands of extremists

The Taliban killed Mr Bashir Bilour, accepting responsibility of his death, because he spoke bravely against them and challenged their ill doings. We lost our great leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto at their hands. They kill whosever challenges their cruel ideology, whether it is a man, woman or child. They set our schools, hospitals and colleges on fire and attack our students, yet we demand for a dialogue with them. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi  kill hundreds a day and shamelessly accept responsibility. If we think that Pakistan is still safe then most surely we are deliberately handing over a dangerous country to our coming generation.

What happened in Quetta with the Hazaras in January and February this year has proved one point without any doubt that militancy has taken over Pakistan, though in this case the face of militancy is sectarianism. There is another face of militancy and that is terrorism, which makes its presence felt through sabotage activities. The targets of these activities are defence installations and stations of both the army and police. Frequent appearance of these two faces of militancy indicates that militants consider their targets legitimate, which also means that the attacks will continue unless militancy is stemmed. Militancy has also engulfed the ethnic domain. Karachi is the best example in this regard.

The threat of militancy Pakistan is beset with is essentially a post-2001 phenomenon. Though the drone strikes made their mark in 2004, the incidents of suicide bombing appeared in 2005. However, in 2009, when Pakistan officially owned the war on terror, militancy attacked Pakistan ferociously. That is the product of the collateral damage and the revenge of the Taliban coalesced into constructing a new challenge to Pakistan in the form of militancy.

At the state level, the mode to deal with the menace of militancy is lopsided. In January this year, the Pakistan army added the sub-conventional warfare doctrine as a chapter to its Green Book of warfare. That was essentially an anti-militancy strategy of the army. However, the civil sector of the state is still devoid of any such anti-militancy strategy. Even the army’s sub-conventional warfare doctrine is a belated awakening and can be characterised in certain ways. First, the doctrine is restrictive in the sense that it takes care of only defence installations and apparatus. Secondly, the doctrine is limited in the sense that it is meant to counter the sabotage activities carried out by saboteurs in the defence affairs. Thirdly, the doctrine is non-prohibitive because it does not deter militants from launching new attacks. Nevertheless, all these three points are comprehensible, since the prime duty of the army is to safeguard the defence related facets first. What is not understood, however, is that the doctrine considers attackers motivated or supported necessarily by the foreign powers. The army seems to have mixed the concept of ‘threat from within’ with ‘the support of foreign powers’. If the army thinks that no militant act can be carried out on the soil of Pakistan without any support from a foreign country, the army is making a grave strategic mistake. In this way, the doctrine overlooks the homegrown factors (non-state actors) that are motivated by various homespun reasons (for instance, religious bigotry) to resort to militancy. This major flaw in the rationale of the doctrine is loaded with costing Pakistan substantially.

The army has adopted its new doctrine but what about the police. To forestall any militant threat and to track the footprints of a militant, the police have to rely on the intelligence equipment and expertise available with the army. Secondly, the police cannot interfere in the area where the army shows its presence. Thirdly, the police are more vulnerable to any militant attack. Though the cost of damage is higher when the defence installations or tools have been attacked, the human loss of the police in any similar sabotage act is no fewer (or less) than that of the army. Multiple attacks in Lahore on the police are examples in this regard. Fourthly, there is not much compensation package made available to the family of a deceased policeman as compared to that of an army man. Fifthly, there is no anti-militancy doctrine of the police. The police are not prepared for any untoward event. In an anti-sectarianism campaign before 1999, dozens of officers of the Punjab police lost their lives. Why should the police keep on playing second fiddle to the army?

The Hazaras are faced with ethno-sectarian assaults that are rendering them isolated and insecure. The ethno-sectarian monopolistic trends are getting palpable in Pakistani society. Years ago, Pakistan envisioned (and perhaps yearned for) the same tendency for Afghanistan. Pakistan might have withdrawn its support to the Afghan Taliban but the effects of that decision are yet to materialise.

No doubt, sectarianism is an issue lingering on in this part of the world for decades. However, what has been happening currently in the sectarian domain never took place before in Pakistan. The ongoing militancy has reinforced sectarian cleavage in Pakistani society. Sectarianism has raised the possibilities of a continued conflict in Pakistan, since no ethno-sectarian community may be ready to capitulate to the forces hell bent on its cleansing. The fleeing of the Hazaras to Australia to save their lives should be a matter of concern for all Pakistanis. Pakistan was not founded to let one community assert any sort of ethno-sectarian monopoly over the others. If the concept of Pakistan is equated with the ethno-sectarian purity, Pakistan is bound to cave in under its own weight.

On February 23, a renowned lawyer of Pakistan, Syed Mohammad Zafar, circulated a statement in media. The statement contained at least four points that should be considered seriously by the incumbent government. First, suo motu actions taken by the Supreme Court (SC) are not the solutions for curbing terrorism including sectarianism, as terrorism has outgrown the will of the state to contain it. Secondly, the off the record remarks given by the judges of the SC may decorate news bulletins but they carry no legal value or practical implications. Thirdly, Pakistan has entered the phase when a new law should be enacted to thwart terrorism: the point of countering terrorism is secondary because it comes after the threat of terrorism is not frustrated by intelligence agencies. Fourthly, the new law should be framed by the current parliament before its dissolution. Fifthly, though not mentioned in the statement, there is a need of infusing more democracy at the political level and more pluralism at the societal level.

By Dr Qaisar Rashid

The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at

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Hazara Killing: Demands ruthless action against LeJ terrorists

It is time to condemn and stand firmly against the banned religious outfits as well as their supporters, financiers and apologists. Only the public will can strengthen a political government in launching stringent actions against extremists and terrorists.

Leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Malik Ishaq

Hazara community is about 600,000–700,000, which is predominantly Shia population and are concentrated in Hazara Town of Quetta. Carefully calculated data reveals that about 1200 Hazaras have been killed from 1999-2012. Particularly, in 61 attacks in 2012, 116 have been killed and 89 injured.

But the start of 2013 added the government concerns, when in the first two months 210 have been killed and 313 injured in eight attacks against sectarian violence. This Incident of January 2013 has resulted into the removal of democratically elected but the most ineffective Provincial Government and enforcement of Governor Rule in Balochistan. But even then, not a single culprit has been brought to the justice until terrorists once again targeted hit Shia community of Hazara Town, Quetta. On 23 February again six persons have be killed in gun fire in Liaqaut Bazar of Quetta. However, killing and target in sectarian clashes in Balochistan is as follow:-

Figure 1 Killing & Injured Balochistan 2008-2013 Actually, targeting innocent Hazaras is an awful and dreadful act of brutality by anti-state elements in which over 90 individuals including women and children were killed and more than 200 injured. The entire nation expresses its heartfelt condolence on tragic loss of precious life and destruction of property, not only sharing their grief but showing solidarity with the victims. All and sundry, today feel deeply aggrieved and fumingly outraged, showing signs of frustration and sense of disparaging vilification. The nation out-rightly denounces such acts of terrorism and condemns their designs.

In fact, multiplicity of present violence, unrest and blast wave in Pakistan need to be analyzed in the local and regional perspective. The recent agreements of Pak-China over Gawadar Port, Iran-Pak Gas Pipeline Project, Iranian nuclear programme, Indian hegemonic design, exit strategy of US-NATO forces, Post Afghan situation after departure of foreign forces in 2014 and transitional phase in Pakistani democratic process, are those imperatives which in future would be influencing the geo-economics, geo-military and geopolitics dynamics of the region.

Thus, timing of targeting Shia community of Balochistan happened when Pakistan has concluded an agreement with China for handing over its strategically vital sea port “Gwadar” to the later for operational purpose. Some of the Arab states, the US. and India might be thinking that that development and operation of Gawadar port would be hitting their economic and strategic objectives.

Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline is another important project that can help in developing and boosting the future economy of Pakistan. The US. and India have shown concerns over this agreement. According to voice of Russia, the US has threatened with economic sanctions against Pakistan over Islamabad’s plan to buy Iranian gas to quell its increasing energy thirst.

Therefore foreign Intelligence agencies are supporting, launching, promoting militancy and sectarian violence aiming of converting Balochistan into a troubled spot since it is the easiest way of creating hurdle in the revealed sensitive agreements between Pakistan, Iran and China.

Moreover, ethnic and militant factors are also interlinked and causes of increasing sectarian violence since LJ is being supported by TPP for fomenting terrorism in the country. According to Norwegian Peace Building Resource Report (NOREF), ‘Sectarian violence has spread across the country and is increasingly directed at disenfranchised targets such as Balochistan’s Hazaras (an ethnic minority) and worshippers at Sufi shrines”.

The internal factor is again emerging as disturbing concerns as Pakistan is passing through transitional phase of democracy, where parliament is completing its tenure on 16th March and elections would also be conducted this year. But foreign forces are not probably ready to accept Pakistan as a strong democratic country. Thus, they hooked local elements in spreading anarchy with view to disrupt or derail political system. In this regards we can take the examples of untimed arrival of Tahirul Qadri, MQM actions of supporting and delinking with the government and Qadri. We can defeat these forces with unity and patriotism.

But unfortunately, some of the political leadership and media have found it easy to blame the intelligence agencies for having failed to unearth the schemes of terrorists. Though some writers like Wajahat S Khan have pointed towards political correlation of the narrative, questioning as to why are these sectarian tensions spilling over in Quetta, Karachi and KPK and why LeJ in not active in Punjab? People are talking about Rana Sanaullah’s close connections with LeJ and Malik Ishaq. People also talk that PML (N) is using Rana Sana Ullah’s connections with LeJ in targeting the Shia community in Balochistan (Hazara of Quetta) with the purpose of discrediting PPP Government and drawing a political mileage. Some of the media anchors traditionally turned towards their guns towards ISI and Pakistan Army while crafting and cooking base less stories against the vital organs of the state.

In this connection, on 21 February 2013, in an arranged briefing, ISPR Chief Maj Gen Asim Bajwa straghtaway negated and condemned the anti-security forces propaganda launched by irresponsible media anchors and so-called analyst. He said that the factually position is, “The armed forces were not in contact with any militant organization, including Lashkar-i-Jhangvi,” He also ruled out any collaboration at the lower levels as well and said that the propaganda against the security agencies, rejecting the impression of supporting any banned organization, Gen Bajwa clarified that the armed forces were not in contact with militant outfits including Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. Military is fighting a war against all forms of terrorism in the country. Commenting on the role of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), he mentioned that the supreme Pakistani agency was operating within its mandate and carried out 130 intelligence operations against terrorists and their masters in Balochistan. The agency has also successfully prevented several terrorist incidents during the last four months. The Pakistan Armed Forces Chief Spokesman also told reporters: “Decision of not calling the armed forces in Balochistan was also a political move, although the military leadership was not reluctant to support the civil administration under Article 245 of the Constitution.”

Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik pointed out on February 20 that Punjab housed hubs of terrorists with headquarters of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, asking the Punjab government to take action against them or the federal government would eliminate the terrorists’ sanctuaries in the province. He added that explosives were transported from Lahore to Quetta to carry out massacres of Hazaras. But Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Shrif while talking to the journalists has shown reluctance in taking action against LJ on the direction of Federal Government. Notably, in the 2010, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer (The Late) disclosed that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has links with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. Therefore, he is not taking effective measures against these banned outfits.

Nevertheless, Supreme Court of Pakistan has also taken serious notes of Quetta Situation asked government to take actions against responsible organization and culprits for Hazra killings. Security forces are determined to take ruthless actions against foreign sponsored militancy and sectarian violence. Rooting out of violence and militancy is only possible when political leadership gets united, forego their individual interests of attracting any type of voters to win the coming elections and condemn unanimously any sort of terrorisms. Government should also ask Arab states, Iran, U.S. and India to stop private funding to any organizations and NGOs.

  By Zaheerul Hassan

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Lashkar-e-Jhangvi : Ideology of Intolerance

The extremist ideology of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and its leading affiliates like TTP is based on, “terror, intolerance and religious fanaticism.” Lashkar-i-Jhangvi belongs to the Deobandi School of thought and its prime targets are the Shi’a community and Iranian interests in Pakistan.

In a period of less than two months, Hazara community was targeted for the second consecutive time causing massacre of over two hundred people altogether. On January 10, 2013, over hundred innocent Hazaras were killed through two bomb blasts and on February 16, 2013, massacre of another over ninety Harazas was caused through another powerful blast of explosive kept in a water tanker. This is besides the routine target killing of this community at the hands of terrorists in last over a decade. It is estimated that total killing of this community over last one decade has exceeded the figure of 1000, all-inclusive; children, women, old and youth. 

It is pertinent to mention that over 600,000 people of Hazara community consisting of well-read, economically affluent, dedicated and patriotic Pakistanis. They make up bulk of the business community of Quetta in particular and Balochistan in general. Being an educated community, there is a remarkable number of this community among officer corps of armed forces, doctors, engineers and local administration of the province as well as at the national level. The former Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Army, General Musa Khan was from the same community of patriotic Pakistanis.The community has contributed a lot in the dissemination of basic and higher education in the province; irrespective of the ethno-sectarian factor. They indeed are devoted Pakistani and remain steadfast in the most trying times of the history of Pakistan, once there were disturbances in the province. A vast majority of Hazara community today think that, Hazaras are paying the price of this devotion and loyalty with Pakistan. Indeed, Hazaras maintained unwavering support for the Federation of Pakistan, against the sub-national tendencies and anti-Pakistan activities. This is considered another reason for their genocide. 

The extremist ideology of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and its leading affiliates like TTP is based on, “terror, intolerance and religious fanaticism.” In contrast, the Hazara community strongly believes on the principles of; human rights, democracy, tolerance, pluralism, inclusiveness, and equal opportunity for all. After two successive events of massacre, the Federal Government has taken some cosmetic measures for the transitory satisfaction of the community. Imposition of Governor Rule to sideline the disgruntled former Chief Minister was one act. Now after second attack, the Provincial Inspector General of Police has also been transferred. Then, reportedly, Punjab Government has also detained the main perpetrator of banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Malik Mohammad Ishaq. Besides, there have been some arrests and even killings of few terrorists of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi elements in Quetta.

Whereas, Hazaras buried their loved ones after days of protests in extreme weather conditions, these cosmetic and fleeting measures taken by the Government are nothing more than a sand dune or a haystack. The terrorists would find new ways and means to unleash terror as and when they desire. Could Governor Rule save Hazaras from another massacre that a new IGP, a bureaucrat under Governor or CM would do? Nonetheless, there is a requirement of a change in the mindset and adaptation of an apolitical approach. 

The real demand is to find the actual culprit(s), who sponsor this terrorist outfit and encourage such terrorist acts for their political gains. As evidenced by media, many scholars and even Federal Interior Minister, the activities of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi are closely linked with a key political figure in Punjab. With this news being, talk of the town, should there still be logics for not taking actions against such people. Does the Constitution of Pakistan provide any immunity for such people too?

The insecure Hazara community has also demanded the Government for the provision of Army protection, which mean they trust this national and unbiased institution. The Government may have its own reasons to deny them, whereas Army command was all set to secure the lives of Hazaras. In response to some media misreporting, the ISPR has rejected any linkage with any religious or banned outfits. It is therefore, responsibility of political leadership to bring to the justice, those responsible for Hazara massacre and causing a divide among the Muslims of Pakistan for their petty political gains or else aiming to fulfill any peripheral agenda. After having a clear indication of the factors behind the massacres of Hazara, should the Govt still play politics with the grieved and impoverished people, just for political gains? In academia, we are taught that, democracy is the form of government; of the people, for the people and by people. In Pakistan, we have a democracy, but is it really “for the people?”

By Dr Raja Muhammad Khan

The writer is Islamabad-based IR analyst.

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Designs behind attacks on Hazara community

The Hazara Shias acted peacefully, but firmly, in demanding justice. One takes the hat off to their discipline and patience in extremely trying and provocative circumstances. Even the spineless government of Pakistan was forced to take some measures. If this government does not succeed in stopping the atrocities committed by the LeJ, then this government has no moral or legal justification to rule the country. In such a case, this government must resign. It has failed in every field — the economy, law and order, welfare of the people and other matters related to it. It is known that the terrorists are clearly identified. Then why is there delay? Why is the political elite not ready to give full support to the armed forces to confront the terrorists? They want to cling on to their vested interests. They want to cling on to their benefits and comforts. It must be clearly understood that it is not only the ruling political parties who are guilty, the so-called ‘opposition’ and the ‘guarantor’ parties, in particular, are equal partners in crime. If they do not understand then they will not be clinging to their power base; they will only be clinging on to the mass of dead bodies of innocent citizens.

Nationwide demonstrators, strikes and sit-in protests by the Shias engulfed various cities and towns of the country for three days in reaction to the deadly suicide attack which killed more than 100 persons of the Hazara Shias in Quetta at Kirani Road, Hazara Town, on February 17, this year. Even, leaders of the Sunni political and religious parties strongly condemned the incident, expressing solidarity with the Hazara community.

Thousands of Hazara Shias refused to bury victims of their community, demanding that they be provided security and the army should be called into Quetta, and immediate action should be taken against the militant group, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

However, after the government accepted the demands of the protesters, upon appeal of the Shia Ulema Council, the protesters decided to call off the sit-in and to bury the bodies. Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf directed a targeted operation against the terrorists in the province of Balochistan, conducted by the Frontier Corps (FC). In this respect, security forces have killed four men and arrested seven culprits including mastermind of the Kirani road terror attack, while Police has rounded up 172 suspected people including the provincial chief of extremist Sunni outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat.

A similar sort of protest and rallies took place, after suicide bombers killed 92 people of the Shias of the Haza community in Quetta on January 10. For that deadly attack also, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi had owned responsibility. Taking cognizance of the reaction of the Hazara Shias, leaders of political parties including those of the ruling party regarding Quetta blasts, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf imposed governor’s rule in Balochistan. Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani who failed in controlling the deteriorating law and order situation of the trouble-hit province went abroad to avoid criticism about that incident.

Although sporadic sectarian violence against these Muslim Shias has accelerated, yet it cannot be seen in isolation as it includes multiple anti-Pakistan designs.

It is notable that secret agencies like American CIA, Israeli Mossad and Indian RAW are behind sectarian violence in Pakistan, which has been accelerated in the past few years. In fact, the US had planned to spark a civil war between the Sunnis and Shias in the wake of war on terror. So, we cannot blame these secret agencies without solid evidence.

For the purpose, a study of the Rand Corporation, titled ‘US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11’ was conducted on behalf of the then US Deputy Chief of Staff for Air Force. The report of the Rand Corporation-a leading think-tank, released on December 27, 2004 advocated that Sunni-Shia sectarian division should be exploited to promote the US objectives in the Muslim World.

The report of the Rand Corporation was first implemented in Iraq. In this context, CIA also got the services of Mossad and RAW to fuel sectarian violence in Iraq. In 2004, major terror-attacks were carried out against the Shias in Karbala and Baghdad. Afterwards, a chain of Shia-Sunni clashes started between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis, targeting each other’s mosques, religious leaders through bomb blasts, suicide attacks etc.

After Iraq’s experiment, more deadly pattern of sectarian strife and clashes have been conducted in Pakistan. While in Balochistan, besides other acts of sabotage, sectarian assaults on Shias, particularly on those of Hazaras have continued in order to fuel sectarian riots in the province. In this context, on September 3, 2010, a deadly suicide attack in Quetta killed more than 55 people who participated in the rally of the Al-Quds Day. In another violent attack, on July 30, 2011, 12 persons were shot dead in Quetta when unidentified armed men opened fire at Suzuki van. During the months of June and July, in four separate incidents, around 40 Shia Muslims were gunned down in Quetta. On many occasions, Shia pilgrims were killed by the unidentified gunmen who targeted passenger vehicles, carrying them from Quetta to Iran. Nevertheless, attacks on the Hazara Shias keep on going unabated.

In fact, some banned religious outfits like Lashkar-i-Janghvi and the Sunni militant group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults on Shias, especially of Hazara community in Balochistan get arms and ammunition from RAW and CIA. These foreign-backed militants groups are behind target killing of many Sunni and Shia leaders, political figures of these sects, bomb blasts etc. in order to achieve the covert aims of the US, India and Israel.

These insurgent groups kidnapped and killed many Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian diplomats. Jundollah conducted many subversive acts in Pakistan’s Balochistan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan. In this regard, Tehran has directly accused CIA of funding these types of terror attacks.

While hinting towards US, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei rightly disclosed, “The bloody actions being committed in Iraq, Pakistan and Iran are aimed at creating a division between the Shias and Sunnis…those who carry out these terrorist actions are directly or indirectly foreign agents.”

It is mentionable that killings of Hazara Shias is part of the strategic game of US, India and Israel to create unrest in Balochistan which has ideal geo-political location-and especially due to its Gwadar Seaport which can link Central Asia with rest of the world. China has invested billions of dollars to develop this port. Besides other subversive activities in the province, Islamabad’s recent decision to handover the control of Gwadar Seaport to Beijing coincided with the terror assaults on these Shias of the Hazara community, while now the agreement has been signed between both the countries. Besides, sectarian violence in Balochistan also coincided with the implementation of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, and in this context, Pakistan rejected US pressure.

Moreover, Pakistan is a declared atomic country, while Iran is determined to continue its peaceful nuclear programme. Therefore, US-led India and Israel have been sabotaging Pak-Iran ties clandestinely, and by also assisting Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and other separatist elements to dismember Pakistan. These hostile elements are behind the bombings on the Hazara Shias in Quetta.

It is of particular attention that regarding Kirani Road incident, in its report, submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on February 20, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) said that the agency had shared information with the civil administration about procurement of explosives by terrorists from Lahore to Quetta and possibility of fresh terror attacks on Hazara community. The court noted that ISI’s information was accurate, but the civil administration did not act on time.

In case of Balochistan, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies and intelligence organizations have thwarted many terror attempts of the militants through pre-arrests, discovery of weapons and huge explosive material, suicide jackets etc.

And several personnel of the security forces have sacrificed their lives for improving situation in the province. But, while speaking in the tone of foreign enemies, some political entities have been holding the Frontier Corps (FC), Military Intelligence (MI) and ISI for deteriorating law and order situation of Balochistan. Otherwise, it is responsibility of the federal and provincial governments unless army is called to take full control of the province. Some media anchors have also been criticizing army and intelligence agencies without any logic. Regrettably, those political parties who were misguiding the general masses about Pak Army and ISI about the aggravated situation of Balochistan including missing persons to increase their vote bank have been urging the government to handover the control of the province to these security forces.

Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik pointed out on February 20 that Punjab housed hubs of terrorists with headquarters of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, asking the Punjab government to take action against them or the federal government would eliminate the terrorists’ sanctuaries in the province. He added that explosives were transported from Lahore to Quetta to carry out massacres of Hazaras. Notably, in the 2010, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer (The Late) disclosed that Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has links with Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi. Therefore, he is not taking effective measures against these banned outfits.

At this sensitive juncture, Pakistan’s politicians and media including all the segments of society must show selfless unity with the security forces and law-enforcing agencies so as to improve the deteriorated situation of Balochistan, and to castigate the sinister designs of those external powers which seek to dismember Pakistan.

By Sajjad Shaukat

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Negotiating with TTP terrorists

 Who is the authorised leader of the TTP terrorists? What authority does he have from so many independent operators? What is their relationship with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)?

Once again, some political
parties have offered ‘peace’ negotiations to the terrorists, and once again, they have received a slap in the face. In fact more than a slap, a bloody gift of dead bodies.

The Awami National Party (ANP) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa held an All Parties Conference (ANP) and decided to invite the Taliban to negotiate. It may be remembered that the veil of Islam that the Taliban wore to deceive the simple, religious-leaning people of Pakistan has been shredded to pieces by the combined statements of the country’s ulema and mashaikh. The true face of the terrorists is thus exposed.

The so-called ‘peace negotiations’ offer led by the ANP was the most disappointing act of opportunism. The ANP has, for a long time, bravely confronted terrorists and earned the respect of the nation. This sudden U-turn could only be opportunism before elections. And who is the one receiving this offer? Who is the authorised leader of the terrorists? What authority does he have from so many independent operators? What is their relationship with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)? These are not the only questions, there are many more:

 a. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has called for the top three politicians of the country, namely Mian Nawaz Sharif (PML-N), Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) and Syed Munawar Hasan (JI), as guarantors from the government. Who is going to be the guarantor for the TTP?

 b. The offer of talks has come from Ehsanullah Ehsan, who has always accepted responsibility for various terrorist attacks, including attacks on the security installations of Pakistan on behalf of the TTP, slaughtering soldiers and killing high-profile politicians. Will Ehsan and other TTP leaders face the courts for gruesome acts they have been committing/accepting?

 c. Presence of a convicted murderer Adnan Rashid with Ehsanullah Ehsan, while the latter offered talks, speaks volumes about the seriousness of their offer. Would Rashid be handed over to the government to fulfil judicial/legal requirements?

 d. In their ‘message for peace’, the TTP vowed to attack another political party (MQM), besides labelling Pakistani soldiers as ‘murtad’. This probably conveys that they would continue deciding who is right and who is wrong and violence would continue. In such circumstances, would negotiations be successful?

 e. Who was responsible for the failure of earlier peace agreements? Did the TTP ever fulfil its obligations in accordance with various clauses of former agreements?

 f. What is the TTP’s mind on compensation for loss of life and property that occurred during the decade-long terrorism?

 g. Will the TTP still attack girls schools in FATA/PATA or try to kill Malala Yousafzai when she comes back?

 h. Does the TTP look for some policy by the government of Pakistan for seeking state amnesty?

 i. Will the TTP be ready to disband their outfit if the negotiations are successful?

 There are several other points to be seriously thought about:

 1. Would dialogue with militants who have killed thousands of Pakistanis in suicide bombings, beheaded soldiers and bombed schools not amount to surrender by the state to them? Wouldn’t it amount to selling the blood of thousands of men, women and children who have fallen victim to the insane violence?

 2. Has the objective of the TTP, i.e. enforcing their brand of Islam, been achieved? If not, how do they intend perusing their agenda in future? What is the real agenda behind their offer?

 3. The TTP has not announced to renounce violence or lay down arms against the state. They have not announced to accept a democratic form of government. In such circumstances, what will be the outcome of such negotiations?

 4. If assuming that all terms of the TTP are accepted by the government of Pakistan, would the TTP wholeheartedly accept the constitution of Pakistan and the writ of the government and renounce violence against the citizens of Pakistan? If not, would a compromise not amount to legitimising violence?

 5. What is the basic motive behind calling for the top three politicians of the country as guarantors?

 6. What formula do the political parties supporting negotiations have in their mind? What will be the role of the TTP in future decision-making? Who will compensate/give justice to the relatives of those who have been killed by the TTP? 

 7. Will society at large accept murderers, convicts and terrorists going scot-free as a result of conciliation or dialogue?

 8. What will be the effect of dialogue on the anti-TTP militant groups like Ansar-ul-Islam? Would it lead to infighting between various groups in order to prove their superiority?

 9. How can the people of FATA, who have been the worst affected, be included in such negotiations as stakeholders?

 In the last few weeks, the nation has gone through a renewed scene of horror and killings of the Hazara community. Terrorists strongly tried to fulfil the age-old dream of Pakistan’s enemies by creating communal animosity.

The Hazara Shias acted peacefully, but firmly, in demanding justice. One takes the hat off to their discipline and patience in extremely trying and provocative circumstances. Even the spineless government of Pakistan was forced to take some measures. If this government does not succeed in stopping the atrocities committed by the LeJ, then this government has no moral or legal justification to rule the country. In such a case, this government must resign. It has failed in every field — the economy, law and order, welfare of the people and other matters related to it. It is known that the terrorists are clearly identified. Then why is there delay? Why is the political elite not ready to give full support to the armed forces to confront the terrorists? They want to cling on to their vested interests. They want to cling on to their benefits and comforts. It must be clearly understood that it is not only the ruling political parties who are guilty, the so-called ‘opposition’ and the ‘guarantor’ parties, in particular, are equal partners in crime. If they do not understand then they will not be clinging to their power base; they will only be clinging on to the mass of dead bodies of innocent citizens.

 By Naeem Tahir

 The writer is the former CEO Pakistan National Council of the Arts; Chairman Fruit Processing Industries; Chairman UNESCO Theatre Institute Pakistan; COO ‘ICTV’ USA, and currently Senior Vice President APML (Central). He can be reached at

 Sources: Daily Times

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Hazara Carnage: what kind of a Pakistan do we want?

There was no open condemnation of the terrorist outfit based in south Punjab that has been carrying out a spate of attacks against the Shia community and not only that, openly brag that by ethnic cleaning of the community, they were fulfilling a great religious obligation. Imran Khan did criticise the outfit forcefully and so did Mian Shahbaz Sharif who ordered a police action against its network in the province, thus shrugging of the charge levelled against his party for previously lending verbal support to the outfit. Meanwhile the arrest of a suspect from Lahore with the discovery that it was from here that explosive material was procured offers a crucial clue which will should help the investigation process.

Repeated mass killings in terrorist attacks have left the nation in total disarray—non-stop chatter Interior Minister Rehman Malik is no different. On Wednesday, Rehman Malik put up a flimsy defense in the Senate to his failure against the security lapses that gave vent to terrorism particularly in Balochistan and in other provinces, saying that the real ire of terrorist attacks should be chief ministers because law and order was responsibility of provincial governments under the 18th Amendment. If that is the case why is he poking his nose in the provincial affairs? A question many need to ask. Anyhow, he went on to say that ‘instead of criticizing him summon all the four chief ministers and ask them what’s going on why didn’t they act on the intelligence shared by the federation. Perhaps in the heat of the moment he forgot that the province of Balochistan is governed by the governor not by a chief minister hence the responsibility for provision of security to life and property rests on the federal government. ‘Knowledgeable’ Malik, sharing his ‘valuable intelligence’ with the Senate says there exists a nexus among Al-Qaeda, LeJ and Balochistan Liberation Army and Sipah-e-Sahaba and Jaish-e-Muhammad and are also involved in terrorism, and added that he provided a list of 3117 suspected terrorists, of which, 31 operatives of Lahore-based LeJ, had recently been arrested in Karachi. Even worst followed in his rhetoric that the Punjab houses hubs of terrorists and warned of direct intervention if the provincial government failed to eliminate the terrorists. The menace of terror continued throughout the term of the incumbent government, express Interior Minister should also tell the people despite inability of the provincial governments for nearly five years, what he is waiting for why the issue has not dealt forthwith. Perhaps, Malik is waiting for tomorrow that never comes.

Like him, the ISI too attempted to absolve itself in a report submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan of intelligence debacle that resulted systematic cleansing of Hazaras. The worst part is the two—the ISI and Malik—have pointed the fingers at the Punjab—a relatively safe province to live—of having some linkage with the banned outfits. Secondly, the reports say that explosives were purchased and transported from Lahore to Quetta to carry out Hazaras’ massacres. Indeed, there is no mechanism in place to check dealings of chemicals in the province. Earlier, a call for placing bar on the sale of chemicals and material being used in explosive-making was heard from Afghanistan and now it is coming from within the country.

The Punjab Chief Minister, who had managed the province relatively better, must not take the finger pointing easy rather should launch a hot pursuit against the terrorist hubs operating in the province if there is any. Even serious are the reports of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s suspected association with the LeJ operative Malik Ishaq and others—a charge that Rana denies. Yet the reports had been in the air for quite some time that he had been active to bring some extremists from South Punjab, willing to surrender militancy, into mainstream politics. Whatever the role he had played in South Punjab does underscore a need for immediate scrutiny at the highest level.

Over 44 percent of country’s religious schools, said to be breeding extremism, are working in South Punjab which may have formed the basis for the Interior Minister to belief that out of 1,764 persons associated with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Muhammad, 726 belonged to South Punjab. Again he knows yet he failed to move the authorities concerned to introduce uniform syllabus under a watchful regulatory authority. Agree or not, the fact is the federal and provincial governments, though claim to have been fighting out terrorism, have failed to do enough to stem extremism. Now the internal situation has become extremely critical rather the country is at the crossroads. Much-wanted decisions to save Pakistan should have come much earlier. Alas! Lack of political will to transform the country is hurting by CouponDropDown”>today. The incumbent government has, for sure, failed to prioritize the issues confronting the nation hence Rehman Malik seems engaged in fighting a lost case for the rulers since the role of the Interior Ministry sounds of a post office sending and receiving the dispatches, having no say in the Administrative hierarchy at any level. Now term of the government is going to expire in less than a month time thus the government is left with no time to deliver at any front. If they hope for tomorrow it never comes.

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Targeting the Hazaras community

Unfortunately, this act of terrorism against the Shias of Pakistan has been going on for almost two decades now. These acts actually are an important part of Pakistan’s domestic policy by its military. These are not random acts but are totally planned killings and genocide of the Shias by Lashker e Jhangvi in the name of Jihad.

Since the advent of 2013, Hazaras of Quetta have been targeted with impunity, being killed mercilessly as if their lives were of no consequence. Prior to 2013, too the Hazara community has been hunted down, being off loaded from passenger buses and vehicles and slaughtered like animals. The January 10 massacre resulted in the death of over 100 innocent victims but instead of expressing sympathy for their loss, the Balochistan provincial government displayed callousness and apathy towards the families of the victims. Even the federal government, took its time to respond; it remained oblivious to the plight of the Hazaras, who weathered rain and sub-zero temperatures, waiting patiently with the mortal remains of their loved ones, refusing to bury them till punitive action was taken against the provincial government, which had failed to provide them security.

It was only when international pressure was borne upon them, foreign media flashed the heart rending images of infants, women and old persons maintaining their vigil with the coffins of their beloveds in the inclement weather and demonstrations by human rights activists in various capitals of the world that the Prime Minister of Pakistan decided to visit Quetta and appease the Hazaras. The dissolution of the inept and ineffective Balochistan Provincial Assembly was a foregone conclusion but once it came into effect, the reaction of the now defunct parliamentarians was quite to the contrary. The former legislators, who had displayed indifference towards the killing of Hazaras, suddenly became united to demonstrate and protest towards the dissolution of the Provincial Government and the imposition of Governor’s Rule. They found a sizable number of supporters in the federal government too, who raged fire and brimstone at their removal from power. Unfortunately, it appears that the decision to hand over the control of Balochistan to the Governor was not a result of a well thought out strategy and no plan was put into place to restore law and order in the strife-torn province, which appears to have become a hotbed for conspiracies and the enemies of Pakistan to use its soil and people for destabilizing the country.

Only forty days later an equally devastating bomb attack targeted the patriotic, peaceful and law abiding Hazara community of Quetta city. It would have appeared that the law enforcing agencies now operating under the direct control of the Governor and the Federal Government, would have learnt a few lessons from the January incident but alas again 90 innocent Hazaras paid the price with their lives. This time around, reportedly, the massive bomb explosion was caused by a large amount of incendiary material being hidden in a large sized water container tied to a trailer. It is contrary to reason that the law enforcing agencies failed to detect and preempt the dastardly attack, which took such a heavy toll of lives.

Once again the peaceful Hazara Community had no option but to silently protest the brutal attack by refusing to bury their dead till the perpetrators of the heinous crime were brought to the book and the state provided them protection. One of their major demands was that the Army should be called in to maintain law and order. The entire country saw peaceful demonstrations and ultimately, the Hazaras were convinced to bury their dead with the dignity that they deserved. The problem however persists.

One needs to examine, who are the real detractors of peace and harmony in the province. The banned but deadly Lashkar-e-Jhangvi , which has claimed responsibility for both the attacks, are sworn enemies of the Shias and have found a soft target in the Hazaras thus they target them with impunity. The question is who is motivating the kilers? Perhaps some clue can be found in the element that sometime back, the Punjabi settlers in Balochistan were being targeted and killed. At that time, the assailants were cracked down upon with full force and the attacks stopped. The second clue lies in the fact that the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi belong to the province of Punjab. Reportedly, they have had close liaisons with the current Ministry of Interior in the Punjab Province. Is it too much of a coincidence that the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is targeting Shias and other soft targets with full liberty in Balochistan, Karachi as well as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but sparing their home province in Punjab?

  Perhaps the answer lies here.

On the other hand, the Hazaras’ demand of handing over Quetta to the Army has been brushed aside. Desperate times call for desperate measures but the Army is the last resort and calling it would indicate that all options have been exhausted. Taking a cue, a number of TV anchors and analysts are busy besmirching the good name of the army and holding it responsible for the killings implying that it wants to take over the control of Quetta. These charges lack conviction because cleaning the Augean’ Stables of the turmoil in Balochistan province and its capital Quetta would necessitate a Herculean effort. The Pakistan Army already has its hands full in combating terrorism and conducting the war on terror in Swat, Waziristan and the Tribal Agencies. It also has to maintain vigil at the Line of Control, which has been heating up because of Indian belligerence and bellicosity. It is but obvious that the Army is so deeply embroiled in executing the tasks assigned to it by the Government to defend Pakistan from the external as well as internal enemies, that it would not dream of upsetting the applecart of democracy and usurp power of the country what to say of Balochistan or Quetta. Pakistan Army has already sacrificed enough of its manpower and physical assets in the war on terror and continues to mount vigil and defend the citadel of Pakistan that it merits the moral support of every patriotic Pakistani rather than dragging its name in mud.

As far as the question of targeting the Hazaras and other innocent Pakistanis by demonic miscreants is concerned, it is the duty of the intelligentsia to expose the real perpetrators of the crime so that the killing fields must stop. The need of the hour is to pay full attention to the peril of terror attacks, mount extreme vigilance and pool resources of every citizen, media and the law enforcing agencies to ensure that terror does not prevail.


By Sultan M Hali

The author, a retired PAF Group Captain, served as Air & Naval attaché at Riyadh and is currently a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host. 

Lashker Jhangvi Who are they?

Who does not know that the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is killing Shias? This criminal fundamentalist outfit was created during Zia’s rule allegedy under the agencies’ patronag? How can we be sure that it does not continue to be supported by some elements?

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a ”Sunni”-Deobandi terrorist outfit was formed in 1996 by a break away group of radical sectarian extremists of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a ”Sunni” extremist outfit, which accused the parent organisation of deviating from the ideals of its slain co- founder, Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. It is from Maulana Jhangvi that the LeJ derives its name. It was formed under the leadership of Akram Lahori and Riaz Basra. The LeJ is one of the two sectarian terrorist outfits proscribed on August 14, 2001, by former President Pervez Musharraf.

The LeJ aims to transform Pakistan into a ”Sunni” state, primarily through violent means. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is part of the broader Deoband movement.
Let us for once admit it openly that amongst South Asian nations Pakistan is an oddity as far as sectarian and religious violence is concerned.  Every once in a while we read in the Internet or in the print media news that describe in nauseating details the account of a carnage in which Muslim minorities, most likely Shiites, are killed in cold blood.    

It is quite clear that the minority Shiites in Pakistan are paying the price of Jihadism with their blood.  The Deobandi Doctrine, which emanates from strict Wahhabi teachings, is fueling the fire of a puritanical movement.  Therefore, some ”Sunni” men are hell-bent on wiping the Shiites in Pakistan.  In one sense, it is a puritanical movement to wipe out Sufism (Folk Islam), Shiites, and other minor offshoots of Islam from South Asian nations.  The Deobandi Mullahs have spawned a Wahhabi revivalism in South Asia, which dates back to 1940s.  The Tablig Al-Jamaat, which organizes marathon-preaching session in the dry winter season during December through February calling it Ijtema (congregation), is asking the faithfuls to revert to the teachings of Islam’s holy book.  It shuns the ‘Folk Islam,’ which had borrowed heavily from other religions and folklore of Persia, India, etc.  The most ordinary Muslims of South Asia were never perturbed by the presence of myriads of Sufi shrines those dot the rural landscape starting from Sind in the West where they are called Mazars of Kalandars to Eastern part of Bangladesh where they are called Dargah of Awlias.  The Deobandi teachings would like to annihilate the Dargah or Mazar cultures of South Asia.  This monolithic view of Deobandi (read Wahhabi Islam) is in clash with South Asia’s ‘Folk Islam.’  Thus, the killing of 90 plus innocent Hazara community in Quetta is a chilling reminder that things could go out of hand if Wahhabi Doctrine is allowed to flourish in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India.  
The problem is not that difficult to comprehend. The culprits have been admitting their claim of killing Hazara Shias and are living among us freely. Malik Ishaq, the leader of the LeJ, moves around without fear of retribution. Those who say that Quetta should be handed over to the military are perhaps naive enough not to know that it is already the military calling the shots there through the Frontier Corps (FC). Nothing, not even a leaf can stir without the consent of the military in Balochistan. The FC having been given police powers after Governor’s rule was imposed, has clearly failed to deliver anything positive. This is the very force responsible for the brutal elimination of nationalists in the province; an accusation proved beyond an iota of doubt by even the SC. This being the lay of the land, why is the military not taking the onus? Why is it silent, seeing the government taking all the heat of the protest staged across the country over the repeated killing of Hazara Shias in Quetta? Even if the entire police force were removed, as the Inspector General of Balochistan is replaced along with other officers, Quetta would still reverberate with death tolls, because of trying to solve the problem in the wrong way. It is tantamount to helping the FC evade its responsibilities. The removal of the incompetent previous government of Balochistan after the Alamdar Road massacre last month has brought little if any change in the government’s inability to control the deteriorating situation in Quetta. The dark night has already descended on the Hazara. The message could not have been clearer. Eight hundred kilograms of explosive was used, making Saturday’s bombing the biggest attack in Quetta’s history. If this is not enough, what are we waiting for before getting down to the business of purging this country of the jihadi monsters we used in yesteryears as proxies?
Does this view surprise anyone that Pakistan has become an extremely violent nation where throwing hand grenades, bombs, suicide bombing, etc., a routine affair? The government does not perform a thorough investigation to figure out who are behind the sectarian violence.  The former president of Pakistan, General Musharraf, is used to the news of these kinds of jihadi activities in Pakistan.  The Islamists also tried to kill Musharraf during 2003-2004.  After hearing the news of the blast, Musharraf expressed “shock and profound grief” and ordered an inquiry to track down the killers.  However, if past is any clue, the investigation will not unearth who are behind the sectarian violence.  The planners of the suicide bombing will again receive impunity as before.  It seems as if Pakistan is paying heavily for Islamization brought on by Gen. Zia ul-Haq in late 1970s and early 1990s.    

Suicide bombing has become a controversial subject in Pakistan.  The archconservative Mullahs who are devotees of Wahhabi Islam condone killing of deviant minority sects all in the name of jihad against impure Islam.  The same bunch won’t mind blasting of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Murtads (apostates), etc.  However, a group of senior Pakistani Muslim clerics  declared suicide bombings and attacks on ordinary citizens and places of worship as un-Islamic.  Perhaps the government to make such characterization of suicide bombings goaded these clerics to offer their fatwa or religious edicts.  The practice of suicide bombing became very popular in certain places in Islamic world.  The late president of Palestine, Yasser Arafat, condoned suicide bombing as he launched Intifada II Movement in early 2000s.   

The Saturday attack on Hazara Town in Quetta is another sign of the failure and inefficiency of the agencies and the provincial as well as federal government. The murder of 90 plus innocent Hazara community people and wounding of almost two hundred for which LeJ has claimed responsibility despite the fact that Balochistan was under governor’s rule is a clear message of incompetence and negligence. Within something like a month the Hazaras of Quetta have lost over 200 members of their community. We all remember the heart breaking sights of them sitting in the streets with the bodies of their unburied loved ones in the arms demanding security of life for peaceful citizen. Only a couple of weeks later the same thing has happened again and more people died. Now we will be facing the same situation with the bodies of the slain displayed in the streets of Quetta.

And what is the government doing? Instead of taking action to tackle the Balochistan crisis president of Pakistan was found doing business as usual and demanding on Sunday that Israel should not construct any new settlements in the Palestinian territory – so much for responsibility for a province under governor’s rule. That is why frustrated and frightened Hazaras and the TNFJ are demanding the imposition of army’s rule in Quetta – a logical conclusion in the absence of civilian rule and state power. Army’s rule and the implementation of martial law and martial law courts seem to be the only alternative to a failing and self-indulgent government. Ore of this kind of ‘democracy’ is unacceptable not only to Hazaras but to Pakistanis at large.

Who can know how best to handle its creation than the creator? It is the military, and none else, who can suppress this jihadi phenomenon. Thanks to our negligence or complacency, the extremists are equipped with the latest weaponry. The silence in certain quarters is feeding into the conspiracy theory that things are being allowed deliberately to deteriorate. Are we into some sort of systematic eradication of minorities in the country, more so Shias? This is what the killing of Shias in Karachi and Lahore too depicts. As far as Balochistan is concerned, the military establishment first, and then the government, owes an explanation to the by CouponDropDown”>people of the country.


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