Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mullahs & Fatwas: A Threat to Pakistan's Unity.

This was the gist of the speeches delivered by eminent speakers at the launch of the Pakistan chapter of the Forum of Secular Bangladesh and Trial of War Criminals of 1971 at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday. Prior to the launch, a documentary Portraits of Jihad directed by distinguished Bangladeshi filmmaker Shahriar Kabir was screened. The subject of the film was the spread of religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh. It gave a detailed account of how extremist groups tried to shake the foundation of Bangladeshi society through terror, making their recruits acquire training abroad and target those who spoke against fundamentalism or upheld secular values. It was a moving documentary that commenced with the footage of an attempt on the life of Shaikh Haseena Wajid in 2004 and ended on a positive note with Lalon Fakir’s mystical words. Iqbal Haider, the president of the forum, complimented the people of Bangladesh for having got rid of militancy. He said the foundation of Bangladesh was laid on four principles enshrined in their constitution — secularism, socialism, nationalism and democracy — which made all the difference. “On the contrary, we Pakistanis are infected with fundamentalism, ethnicity, sectarianism etc,” he said, and claimed that the largest number of Muslims were killed (by Muslims) in Pakistan.

Ahl-e-Hadith Scholar ISSUES Fatwa of Kufr on Deobandis & Barelvis

Mufti Naeem's Fatwa against on Ahl-e-Hadith & Barelvis

He said that extremists were free to attack jails, shrines and schools; 900 schools were destroyed by Taliban within the last three years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, depriving children of education. Following the path of secularism did not mean deviating from the basic principles of Islam, he argued. “Secularism is the message of humanity; it is not against religion,” he concluded. Shahriar Kabir informed the media that when the BNP and Jamaat-i-Islami were in power in Bangladesh, a vibrant civil society movement in the country took root because of which extremist forces suffered a humiliating defeat in the next elections. He said Bangladesh had succeeded in coming up with a viable education policy introducing uniform curriculum in schools and madressahs. He was of the view that no government could fight against terrorism without the help of civil society. With respect to Pakistan, he said he was optimistic as the people of the country were not fundamentalists. Speaking about the importance of the forum, he said while religious parties had built their networks all over the world, those who spoke with reasoning did not know each other. Senator Hasil Bizenjo praised the way Mr Kabir’s documentary highlighted a sensitive issue, and lamented that despite the fact that Pakistan was more affected by violence no such documentaries were made in the country. He remarked it was time that intellectuals of Pakistan came forward. Artiste Sheema Kermani stated that there were two victims of fundamentalism — women and art & culture —, adding that “we could only move forward if we adopted secularism; otherwise there is little hope for Pakistan”. She complained that the media, especially the electronic media, did not give enough coverage to the activities that highlighted tolerant values. Advocate Javed Qazi agreed with Shahriar Kabir that there should be a Sufi conference in Pakistan and told the media that it could be held in Karachi in winter. Later, the host of the programme, Munazza Siddiqui, read out the names of the ad hoc committee of the forum. REFERENCE: ‘Secularism is the way forward’ Peerzada Salman

Mufti Naeem's Fatwa against Barelvis

Part 1 - Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi Sipah Sahaba Geo TV Interview - 5 July 2010

The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as ‘only’ Muslim. There are schools upon schools of Islamic jurisprudence that have significant doctrinal differences ------ The Shias of Pakistan, along with scores of other vulnerable groups, have been under an unrelenting systematic assault since the height of the Pak-Saudi-US jihad against the erstwhile Soviet Union. But over the last several years the methodical, merciless butchery has reached a point that is gruesome even by Pakistani standards of viciousness and yet the slaughter of the Shias in Quetta, Kurram, Gilgit-Baltistan, Karachi and Peshawar has remained a nameless crime. It is a media norm to use euphemisms and sanitised phraseology to describe the mass murder of a beleaguered community. But not identifying the crime is not the only thing happening. There is a systematic effort by the mainstream media to obfuscate the religious — and in some cases ethnic — identity of the victims. In a recent Twitter exchange with a young Hazara boy, a top Pakistani television anchor wrote, “Hazaras should not call them Shias; they are Pakistani Muslims and their blood is equal to all the other Pakistanis [sic].” It appears to be a pretty benign comment unless one considers the implications of reporting a nameless crime, now with nameless and faceless victims. However, before I proceed further, let there be no doubt that those massacred recently in Quetta used to identify themselves as Shia Muslims and belonged to the ethnic Hazara community. Their names are: Ms Bakht Jamal, Zafar, Alam Khan, Ghulam Sakhi, Hafizullah, Nazir Hussain, Mubarak Shah (Spini Road attack March 29, 2012), Ejaz Hussain and Ali Asghar (Kirani Road attack April 2, 2012), Qurban Ali, Muhammad Zia, Muhammad Hussain, Shabir, Nadir Ali, Saeed Ahmad (Prince Road attack April 9, 2012); Muhammad and Ms. Fatima (Sattar Road and Kasi Road respectively, April 13, 2012), Abdullah, Juma Ali, Muhammad Ali, Syed Asghar Shah, Eid Muhammad (Brewery Road April 14, 2012), and Suleiman Ali (Kawari Road April 16, 2012). This list is neither exhaustive nor includes the injured. This same anchor in a subsequent tweet laid the blame for the massacre of the Hazara Shias on the presumed enemies of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. So now one does not know the crime, the victim or the perpetrator — without which little, if any, meaningful remedial, preventive or punitive intervention can take place. What Professor Roger Smith et al had written about the genocide-denying scholars is also apt for such media obfuscation: “Where scholars (in the present case the media) deny genocide in the face of decisive evidence that it has occurred, they contribute to a false consciousness that can have most dire reverberations. Their message in effect is: murderers did not really murder; victims were not really killed; mass murder requires no confrontation, no reflection, but should be ignored, glossed over ... (they) contribute to the deadly psychohistorical dynamic in which unopposed genocide begets new genocides.” Why does the media not identify the victims — and the perpetrators — for who they are? The answer is not simple and has its roots in the media persons being poorly informed, fearful of the perpetrators, or downright complicit. Many well-meaning people are genuinely unaware of who some of the victims are. A leading editor, in an otherwise balanced editorial, had called the victims of the Quetta violence as ‘Hazarajat’, a term for the traditional geographic homeland in Afghanistan of the Hazara tribes but never used for the people. Also most Pakistanis have had little or no direct interaction with the small closely-knit Hazara community of Quetta and find them to be some sort of curiosity. But the foregoing remark by the anchorperson is also ominous in that it dispenses with any acknowledgment of diversity and upholds boilerplate conformity that the Pakistani state has been perpetuating almost since its inception. The fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as ‘only’ Muslim. There are schools upon schools of Islamic jurisprudence that have significant doctrinal differences. Setting some sort of benchmark to qualify for the state’s protection spells disaster for the groups that are numerically and logistically handicapped. More importantly, the Islamisation of Pakistan and indoctrination of the armed forces under General Ziaul Haq has made Wahhabism and its certain variants as the de facto state creed. The inherent problem in using religion as the pivot of the national polity is that the adherents of the myriad interpretations of religion compete with each other and with everyone else — by armed means eventually — to assure that their model prevails. While the Shiite and others were only outnumbered before, after the Wahhabist militants became the veritable arm of the Pakistani security establishment, they were outgunned too. When the Pakistani state consummated its compact with the jihadists, neither party signed a ‘for external use only’ clause. By virtually sharing the right to use violence with the non-state actors, the Pakistani state empowered them to define — and enforce — what the good ‘Pakistani Muslim’ should be. COMMENT: Shia genocide: nameless crime, faceless victims — I —Dr Mohammad Taqi Thursday, April 19, 2012\04\19\story_19-4-2012_pg3_2

Mufti Naeem Fatwa on Dr. Israr Ahmed

Part 2 - Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi Sipah Sahaba Geo TV Interview - 5 July 2010

It seems that Pakistan is heading towards another purge — this time a violent process of cleansing the Shia population. There is a mysterious wave of terrorism that is killing Hazara population on a daily basis in Balochistan, Shias in Gilgit-Baltistan, Kurram Agency and elsewhere. In the last one-month, dozens of Shias have been targeted and killed as if Pakistan was a medieval land, practicing witch-hunting. The ‘banned’ organisations have taken responsibility for most of the attacks in Balochistan. The case of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), on the other hand, has faced a virtual media blackout. Not long ago, GB was touted as the fifth province but when it comes to the vital question to protecting its population, the state is miserably failing. The most gruesome incident took place when 15 passengers of the Shia community were taken off the buses in Chilas, Diamer district, and shot. People from the region say that GB is under attack by the Taliban insurgents from Malakand division and Waziristan. The Darel and Chilas Valleys provide them refuge. The stronghold of Salafis and Wahabis on Pakistan’s Afghan and, consequently, Taliban policy cannot be delinked from the ongoing massacre. GB is a plural society where Muslims from different sects — Shia, Ismaili and Nurbakhshis and Sunnis — have coexisted for long. Sectarian tensions started in the area during Gen Zia’s rule when militant organisations such as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan were formed and nurtured. But the targeted killings of Shias this time is not business-as-usual. It follows the pattern that is evident countrywide and it is linked to the Taliban finding new havens and areas of control. Such was the mayhem in GB that the cellular services were down and a whole region was cut off from the rest of the country. Curfew was in place for days and the local population continues to live in fear of violence. Most notably, the Shias of the area are under attack. In the tribal areas, Parachinar has also witnessed the re-emergence of sectarian tensions and Talibanisation in recent years. In 2008, the local Sunni population sided with the Taliban and laid siege to an enclave of Shiites in the area. Subsequently, Shia residents fled to the city of Peshawar. Since then, the Taliban have been successful in exploiting the generations-old sectarian conflict in the region as a way of challenging the government’s writ in the Kurram agency. The spillover of the Talibanisation has also been witnessed in the settled district of Hangu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). Parachinar’s Shiite population has been subjected to abductions, violence and murder. Sunnis perceived as being too friendly to the Shias have also been targeted. Reports of Shia militias have also appeared in the media in retaliation to the attacks by the Taliban. The efforts of Pakistani state to use religion to construct a national identity have come home to roost. Since the 1950s, the textbooks and public education were used to develop a non-inclusive identity; and glorification of historical characters who hated Shiaism such as Shah Walliullah and Emperor Aurangzeb. The sectarian decrees of apostasy against the Shias of Pakistan in the ‘90s cited such religious figures to justify their pedigree. Zia proceeded to impose a rigid interpretation of Islamic law on Pakistan, in part to legitimise his illegal rule and in part as a result of his own ideological inclinations. A gradual movement from the more tolerant, pluralist expression of religion to a more austere and puritanical Deobandi Islam had already begun in the country earlier. REFERENCE: persecution Connivance at a cost Targeted killings of Shias this time is not business-as-usual. It follows the pattern that is evident countrywide and it is linked to the Taliban finding new havens and areas of control By Raza Rumi

Part 3 - Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi Sipah Sahaba Geo TV Interview - 5 July 2010

Given the brutal violence against the Shias in Pakistan over the past three decades, Shias have started to wonder if there is a future for them in Pakistan. While hundreds of thousands of Shias had migrated to Pakistan in 1947 in the hope of building a new life for themselves and their future generations, many are now contemplating emigrating from Pakistan to save their lives and property. Hundreds of Shias have been murdered by the Deobandi militants in Quetta in the past few months alone. In the last couple of weeks, Shias have been taken off buses, lined up and shot dead. Quetta, however, is not an exception. Shias are not safe in any major town in Pakistan. Their places of worship, religious processions, and civilian and religious leadership has come under relentless attacks while the State’s machinery has either refused or failed to protect Shias and other religious minorities in Pakistan. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, 3,700 civilians, mostly Shias, have been killed and another 7,700 wounded since 1989 in sectarian violence in Pakistan. Elsewhere, several thousand Shias have been ruthlessly murdered in sectarian violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Pakistan. In the last decade alone, the number of Shias killed by fellow Muslims is an order of magnitude higher than those who died at the hands of non-Muslims. These stats are at odds with the mainstream rhetoric of the religio-political Muslim parties who argue for one people under Islam. In 2004, I visited India for the first time. I attended the Friday prayers in the historical Delhi mosque. The cab drove me right to the main gate and I walked freely into the compound. Later, I visited the Bara (large) and Chota (small) Imambargah in Lucknow. I walked into both places without any hindrance. The same was true for mosques and shrines in other cities that I visited in India. Weeks later when I went to Pakistan I realised how far things had deteriorated vis-à-vis India. While I was able to walk into Sunni and Shia places of worship in India without being stopped at checkpoints by the police, I was not able to do the same in Pakistan. REFERENCE: An incurable disease? Murtaza Haider 5th October, 2011

Part 4 - Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi Sipah Sahaba Geo TV Interview - 5 July 2010

The patron-in-chief of the jihadis, including the Taliban, has been General Hameed Gul, who headed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence during the formative years when Russian-made weapons were shipped from Egypt and elsewhere to equip Afghans and others to fight the Red Army in Afghanistan. General Gul was recently confronted by an inimical group of Shias who were protesting outside the Parliament in Islamabad. As the crowd complained against his longstanding relationship with the militants leading terrorist attacks against Shias, the General instead came off as the biggest dove as he addressed the crowd while his son whispered speaking notes in his ear. General Hameed Gul claimed to have initiated deweaponising the militants before he was removed from ISI in June 1989. I happened to meet General Hameed Gul in a suburb of Toronto in the mid-90s when he visited Canada. Sitting among a large group of devotees, General Gul spoke with pride of the “successes” achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan. I specifically asked the General if he was at all concerned about the excessive spread of small arms and assault weapons in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His answer then was quite different from what he stated on April 10 in Islamabad. General Gul looked at me with barely concealed disgust and observed that weapons were the ornaments for men. “It is the same weapons that will come in handy to ward off the enemy,” proclaimed General Gul. Since his proclamation in the mid-90s, the same ornaments have dispatched thousands of Pakistanis to their graves and have brought the state and the society to a near default. In the comity of nations, Pakistan is increasingly being referred to as a pariah state. Even the overseas Pakistanis now march outside Pakistani embassies to protest against the massacres of minorities that continue unabated. Wherea,s once Pakistan complained of human rights violations by India in the United Nations, other are now accusing Pakistan of the same. As the violence increases in Pakistan, the rest of the world loses its confidence in Pakistan’s ability to meet her economic, legal, and moral obligations. If the sectarian and factional violence, which no longer targets only the Shias and other minorities, continues in Pakistan, it is likely that the state and the society will implode, as it has already in the neighbouring Afghanistan. It is imperative for Pakistan’s military and civilian establishment to recognise that the time to act decisively against extremists in Pakistan has arrived. There is no room or time to play favourites and support the “good militants” who may side with the establishment for a short while, but the same good militants will most likely turn against their handlers, as they have done so repeatedly in the last few years. REFERENCE: Pakistan imploding under sectarian violence Murtaza Haider

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