On Friday, one of the attackers at the Peshawar imarbargah was tackled by the people when he tried to detonate his explosives. We are a brave people, but fundamentalism is killing us one by one. Three suicide bombers entered the mosque while only one was able to blow himself up. This is the third mass killing of Shias since 2015. At least 23 Shia pilgrims died and seven were wounded in a gun and suicide attack near the Pakistan-Iran border in Balochistan. On January 30, 2015, over 60 people were killed at a bomb blast at a Shia mosque in Shikarpur with Jundullah claiming responsibility. With more than 30 million Shias, Pakistan has the second largest Shia Muslim population in the world after Iran, followed by India and Iraq. Thanks to a right wing media, as well as death threats by the dozen, we have a silent media. The world is completely oblivious to the genocide of Shia Muslims in Pakistan at the hands of Deobandi terrorist groups.
Genocide might seem like a strong word, but it holds under international definitions. Under the UN Convention on Genocide in 1948, the 127 state signatories undertook to “prevent and punish” genocide, defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. It is a crime under international law regardless of “whether committed in time of peace or in time of war”. According to the UN Commission of Experts that examined violations of international humanitarian law in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the law gives the right to states to act alone or call on the UN to take appropriate measures. This is a genocide, as per the definition. It is systematic, and there is intent to destroy a whole group. The UN won’t intervene of course, because Pakistan would need to ask for help or make a move itself. But we are a nation in denial, from the holocaust to the massacres in Bangladesh, genocides are “conspiracies.” Jundullah and TTP coming after Shias? No sir! At the bottom of it all must be an “Indian hand.”
The roots of anti-Shiaism are deep and embedded. While many Sunnis openly condemn terrorism and violence in other cases, in the case of attacks on Shias, there is a ‘but’ bigger than even Maulana Abdul Aziz’s ‘but’ in the case of the Peshawar APS killing. The sad fact is that fifty percent of Sunnis in Pakistan don’t even consider Shias to be Muslim (according to research done by Pew in 2012). Puritanism and Wahabisim has made a deep mark on the development of religion in our society. Once someone is not a Muslim, they are considered kafir, and so, Wajib-ul-Qatal. In response, the Shias continue to be non-violent, and they hide away, like the Ahmadis, Sikhs, Hindus, and anyone else who is not Sunni.