By Umer Ali
Dear Mr Abbasi,
Every now and then, you post your views regarding the latest political scenario on your Facebook page, which happens to have more than 2 million followers. I have no issues with you expressing your thoughts on a social media platform as I strongly believe it is your basic right to do so. The problem I have with you is the mindset you are propagating and how thousands of your followers are influenced by it.
You recently posted your contentment over Pakistani media and government talking about the state of Rohingyas. Termed as one of the least wanted races in the world, Rohingyas were snatched the right of citizenship from Burmese government in 1982 and since then, they have been facing harsh persecution from the hands of Burmese. To make the matters worse, they have been denied citizenship in Bangladesh as well. Currently, hundreds of Rohingyas are stranded in sea waiting to die of starvation as no country allows them to enter their territory and other thousands are living in congested camps in various places in terrible situation.
Coming back to your post, I appreciate your concern about Rohingyas as being a fellow Muslim and a human; everybody needs to raise voice against their persecution. But you went on to say that “To those who will now rant about Shia, Hazara, Ahmaddiya genocide and minority rights in Pakistan, please feel a little shame before comparing our tragic terror incidents by a few hell bound terrorists to a brutal mass state backed massacre going on in Burma”.
The problem starts here. You happen to be a nationalist who is up for a nationalist cause; don’t you have the audacity to acknowledge the brutal hounding Ahmadis, Shias and other minorities face in Pakistan? Couldn’t you come up with a better word than “rant”? Does raising voice against the horrible killing of Shias mean we are ranting? And should we just stop voicing our concern because these acts of terror are done by few hell-bound terrorists?
Now let’s come back to your point that we shouldn’t compare minority persecution in Pakistan with that of Rohingyas because the latter is sponsored by state. Let me quote few facts for you.
Firstly, Ahmadis are constitutionally declared non-Muslims in Pakistan. Does this happen somewhere else in the world that a community who claims to be Muslims aren’t allowed to do so? Have you ever heard that a Catholic state doesn’t allow Protestants to call themselves Christians? Have you gone through the Ordinance XX? Don’t you know that Ahmadis aren’t allowed to practice their religion freely in Pakistan? Don’t you know that Ahmadis aren’t even allowed to greet each other in Islamic way? Haven’t you gone through the recent news that minarets and dome of an Ahmaddiya mosque have been demolished in Chakwal on the orders of district court? How would you feel if you were proscribed to call yourself a Muslim and practice your religion? The plight of Ahmadis can’t be understood without facing the music yourself. Mr. Abbasi, you just can’t understand that.
In 1985, an organization namely Sipah-e-Sahaba, devoted to apostatizing Shias in Pakistan was formed. Its founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi took part in Afghan Jihad which was sponsored by USA & Saudi Arabia. With a tilt towards the Wahabi Saudi Arabia, Zia’s policies were totally against the Shias of Pakistan due to schism between Iran and KSA. Zakat and Ashr ordinances in his era created a huge controversy as it was totally against Shia beliefs. Mr. Abbasi, how would you feel if you were forced to perform a ritual you didn’t believed in?
With Jihadi outfits being the strategic assets, the state of Pakistan continued its policy of supporting them financially and strategically. Under the cover of these Jihadi outfits hid Sipah e Sahaba, which expanded its network from a small town of Jhang to the whole country. It rose to fame as a deadly hit squad with the aim of eliminating notable Shia personnel in Pakistan. It continued to operate freely until 2001 when Musharraf was forced to ban their activities. Despite the ban, they keep on operating under the name of Ahl e Sunnat wal Jammat till date.
The question here is why has the state failed to ban their activities? Why are they allowed to contest elections despite being banned? What has the government done to stop the persisting hate speech against Shias? Why has the ISI backed likes of Masood Azhar who vocally supported Sipah e Sahaba? Why hasn’t the state asked Jamia Binoria to take down the Fatwas of apostasy from their website? Why do the political parties need the help of sectarian organizations to score victory?
Dear Mr. Abbasi, our state has completely failed to protect its minorities let alone giving them equal rights. Ahmadis in Pakistan face state-sponsored persecution while Shias are killed in an organized way with the help of deep state of Pakistan. You cannot conveniently get away with their plight by putting the blame on “few hell bound” terrorists. We, as a nation have failed them. You are followed by millions on social media and you are the role model of thousands of people out there. Please stop desensitizing your followers and belittling their sacrifices.
Umer Ali is an aspiring journalist. He believes in a tolerant and progressive society. He reads and writes about Pakistan and its history. He tweets at @iamumer1