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Pakistan: Sectarian Killings and Role of Media
By Mohammad Shoaib Adil,
Saturday April 24, 2010
Daily Aajkal, Lahore, Pakistan
In Pakistan, war against terrorism is going on. Taliban have added a new dimension to this war by introducing sectarian killings in urban areas. A large section of Pakistani media is supporting the war against terrorism but fail to express due resentment against sectarian killings. They fail to answer the burning question if sectarian killing is also not a part and act of terrorism.
Actually our media is supporting the war against terrorism half heartedly due to pressure of western countries and US. Other wise Pakistani media often support the activities of Taliban and try to present the unlawful activities of Taliban like burning of CD shops and restricting women to get education according to Shariah. The voice against sectarian killings in Pakistan is weak and government has no strategy to overcome this pathetic attitude. Media and its projected intellectuals do not discuss openly such issues and try to hush up the matter in one or other way. Not a single voice is raised in our electronic media to condemn fundamentalism and support secularism.
History of sectarian violence is as old as Pakistan. After three or four years of partition, sectarian violence is started against Ahmadis (a Muslim sect which was declared non Muslim by parliament in 1974). At that time, secular traditions of United India were prevailing and law enforcement agencies dealt strictly with such issues. But after the passing of objectives resolution (in which Allah is declared supreme authority in making laws instead of Parliament) fundamentalism has grown manifold in our society and secular traditions became vulnerable.
During the period of so called Afghan Jihad, which is declared by US and was actually against Soviet Union, Pakistani society became the hub of proxy war between Iran and Suadi Arabia and sectarian killings were started. So called Islamisation of Pakistan penal code by a dictator, General Zia ul Haq made the situation grave day by day. Now liberals, minorities and women have become targets of this Islamisation.
Actually people of Pakistan became hostage of different religious groups which have strong links with Taliban. These religious groups have been so powerful and dominant that if any government tries to change such legislation, they created hurdles. Recently, due to the pressure of these elements, constitutional committee, headed by Mr. Raza Rabbani, could not strike down the amendments added by a dictator General Zia ul Haq.
Currently People of Pakistan are facing unemployment, inflation and energy crises on one hand and on the other have become victims of suicide bombers. Besides this, large section of people is becoming target of sectarian killings. From the last many years Shia community in Dera Ismael Khan, Para Chanar, Gilgit-Biltistan, Quetta and Karachi have become target of sectarian killings. Ashura processions and majalis have been attacked by jihadi groups. As a result thousands of people have been killed. In Dera Ismael Khan target killing of shia community is continuing and the same situation at Quetta prevails where target killing of Hazra (Shia) community is continuing. Various jihadi groups have accepted responsibility for such killings, but law enforcement agencies kept silent. Media and its sponsored analysts do not dare to condemn these jihadi groups.
In central Punjab besides shia community, minorities are also becoming target of Jihadi groups. In July 2008, on blasphemy charge sixty houses were burnt by highly provoked procession of local people. This was a clear war against Christian community but our media did not mention it initially and reported it as a clash between two local groups. Government of Punjab constituted an inquiry tribunal headed by a Judge of Lahore High Court. Some two months back, the tribunal presented its findings and involvement of Jihadi organization was proved. But the law enforcement agencies are not interested to take any action against jihadi group.
Besides Shia and Christian Community, Ahmadi community is being persecuted and are also a target of sectarian killings. Many Ahamadis have been killed only due to their faith. The news of excesses on Shia and Christian community published in newspapers and noticed by different sections of civil society. But acts of persecution of Ahmadis were not reported in the print and electronic media. Not a single analyst in the media has raised voice in support of Ahmadis. Opponents took benefit of this silence and started one sided propaganda. It is an irony that law enforcement agencies also become a party and sided with religious groups.
Roots of fundamentalism are so deep in our society that if anybody speaks against persecution of Ahmadis he, too, is declared Ahmadi. This is a simple way to victimize such a person who try to support them. If anybody tries to write in favor of Ahmadis in the press a vicious propaganda is started against such person. In Faisalabad, many Ahmadis have been killed from during last three months and many have been kidnapped for ransom. A local cleric issued a decree in which he allows the looted amount and allow kidnapping for ransom. Ahmadi community in Fasialabad have received threatening letters, ‘advising’ them to renounce their faith, before their homes are raided or relatives abducted. Police have arrested some people and investigations revealed that the culprits belong to Lashker e Taiba, a jhidhi outfit. Last year 23 Ahmadi students (girls and boys) have to quit Medical College on the pressure of religious groups only due to their faith.
Due to Islamisation of General Zia ul Haq, people started to give religious dimension to their personal and business issues to exploit weak groups of society. With the passage of time situation become so grave that if anybody declared from mosque loudspeaker that his opponent is involved in blashpehmy. People became provoked and started to beat him or his family member and police became just spectator.