Minorities Unsafe in Pakistan

People gather at the site of a bomb blast on Jan. 10 in Quetta. At least 11people were killed and more than 50 injured. (Photo: Asianet-Pakistan,

Pakistan’s founder "Quaid-i-Azam" Mohammad Ali Jinnah dreamt of a country that would be Islamic and at the same time secular. The basic ideals behind the creation of Pakistan underscored security, welfare and cooperation of the people of all religions. Thanks to extremism and radicalization, today Pakistan is counted among the most dangerous places to live. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s police, army and government look helpless in providing enough protection to the minorities being targeted on a daily basis. This failure of the Pak establishment to act against jihadi outfits that target minorities, with impunity, creates doubt about its willingness to nip them in the bud. While the links between these outfits and the security establishment have been widely discussed, the jihadi organizations wield electoral clout, forcing many political parties to adopt a soft policy towards them. One estimate says the PML(N) has a tacit understanding with the jihadi organizations in 40 constituencies of Punjab.

The minorities being targeted in Pakistan include Shias, Ahmedias, Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. Pakistani Hindus visiting India often refuse to go back to their home country. There have been reports of forcible religious conversion of many Hindus in Pakistan. Forcible collection of the Jazya tax from Sikh traders has also been reported. Many churches have been vandalized in the recent past in Pakistan. Recently, a Christian girl was deliberately implicated by a maulvi under the notorious blasphemy law. Later, it surfaced that the maulvi himself asked the girl to throw burnt pieces of the Quran Sharif in the garbage and then accused her of setting the Quran Sharif on fire. One Muslim youth exposed that maulvi and saved that girl from the nonsensical blasphemy law.

Shia and Ahmediya sects are also being targeted in Pakistan. Even though both these sects call themselves Muslim and believe in Allah, the Quran Sharif and Prophet Mohammad, Wahhabi Muslims refuse to recognize them as Muslims. Terrorist organizations linked to Wahhabi ideology, such as Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, are openly massacring the people of the Shia and Ahmediya community. Their places of worships are being destroyed. Even those belonging to the majority Barelvi (Sufi) sect don’t feel safe in Pakistan. Many of their ancient mausoleums have been destroyed by Wahhabi terrorists.

The extent of violence faced by Hazara Shias in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, suggests that it has almost become unbearable for minorities to live in Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba have targeted thousands of people belonging to minorities, including women and children, in Balochistan and the Swat valley, and have claimed responsibility for their acts of terrorism. On Jan. 10, 120 people were killed in a bomb blast in a billiard hall in Quetta. On Feb. 16, 92 were killed in an attack in Quetta’s main market. On Feb. 18, terrorists linked with these groups shot and killed famous social activist and eye specialist Dr. Ali Haider and his 11-year old son in Lahore. In Quetta alone, about 1,200 Shias have been killed within the last two months.

Although Shia and Sunni communities have been living in peace in this region, terrorists affiliated with Wahhabi ideology don’t want any minority to live in peace. Lately, the city of Quetta came into the global limelight when the kin of 120 innocent Hazara Shia victims of terrorist violence sat on the road and refused to bury their bodies. This agitation went on for five days. They agreed to bury the bodies only after Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf met them personally and assured them of justice and security. Then on March 3, at least 50 people were killed, including women and children, and about 150 injured when two blasts ripped through a Shia-dominated area of the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi belong to the same category as that of the Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and al Qaeda. Calling themselves true Muslims, the members of these terror groups indulge in violence and cruelty in the same way the Yazid unsuccessfully tried in Karbala to make Imam Husain comply with his demands. But history has not been kind to Yazid or his followers. The need of the hour is to keep a check on these extremist forces and to find and block their sources of finance. Not only the Muslims, but people belonging to all religions, should come together and raise their voices against fundamentalist and extremist ideology.