Azaranica is a non-biased news aggregator on Hazaras. The main aim is to promote understanding and respect for cultural identities by highlighting the realities they face on daily basis...Hazaras have been the victim of active persecution and discrimination and one of the reasons among many has been the lack of information, awareness, and disinformation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pakistan’s Extremist Democracy

Ahmed Rashid

AFP/Getty Images

The aftermath of a bomb that killed 84 people at a Shia market in Quetta, Pakistan, February 16, 2013

This spring was supposed to open a new chapter in Pakistan’s tenuous embrace of inclusive democracy. At midnight on March 17, following constitutional rules, the Pakistan government of Asi Ali Zardari stepped down and the national assembly was dissolved, in preparation for national elections in May, which will mark the first time the country passes from one elected leadership to another. And yet a terrifying escalation of extremist attacks against religious minorities and aid workers since the start of the year has shown the government and the security forces’ utter failure to deal with a festering culture of intolerance.

Sectarian killings in three very disparate parts of the country—Quetta, in the western province of Balochistan, Karachi, in the south, and Lahore, in the Punjab heartland—are just the latest incidents of large-scale violence. In Quetta in January and February, the Sunni extremist organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi killed nearly two hundred Shias of the Hazara ethnic group in two separate bomb attacks. For days after the second attack, outraged members of the Hazara community refused to bury their dead, blocking roads with coffins, while others said they were ready to flee the country. On March 3, in the heart of Karachi, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants killed another fifty Shias in a truck bombing that did extensive damage to a Shia neighborhood. In other incidents, Shia naval officers have been gunned down and Shia doctors have been targeted in major cities. The total number of Shias killed this year already approaches the more than four hundred killed in all of 2012, a figure that was itself a dramatic rise from previous years.

Nor have other groups been spared. On March 9, in Lahore, an enraged crowd set fire to more than 150 houses and two churches belonging to the Christian community. The mob had apparent been incited by a report that a Christian sanitation worker had insulted the Prophet Mohammed. Such attacks have been encouraged by the country’s controversial blasphemy law, which makes it a crime to offend Muslims or denigrate Islam. Dozens of people, most of them Christians, were charged with blasphemy in 2012 and sixteen are on death row, including Aasia Bibi, a Christian who is the first woman of any faith to be sentenced to death for blasphemy. Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch, says, “Law enforcement authorities need to put aside their prejudices and protect religious minorities who are clearly in serious danger.” (This may be more difficult than it sounds: Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Sherry Relman, is herself being investigated under the blasphemy laws simply for suggesting that the laws be reformed.)

Meanwhile, NGO and aid workers have been attacked across Pakistan, often by criminal gangs and sectarian groups that are hostile to their work. Earlier this week, two gunmen on motorbikes shot and killed Parveen Rehman, the leading NGO activist in Karachi, who was the director of the Orangi Pilot Project, one of the largest housing and drainage projects in slum areas in all of Asia. Her killing shows how powerful the land-grabbing mafia, whose abuses she had brought to light, have become and the impunity they enjoy. Her tragic killing follows the killings of some 16 aid workers, in separate incidents in December and early January, who were targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas for distributing polio vaccines.

While these incidents have many causes, religious intolerance in Pakistan goes back decades. The tiny Hindu and Sikh population were the first to abandon Pakistan and seek shelter in India after a wave of programs against them in the 1960s and 1970s. The small Christian population which number an estimated 1.6 million were next. Many who could do so migrated to Canada and Australia; many of those remaining belong to the poorest strata of Pakistan’s population. Ahmadis, a Muslim sect who were declared non-Muslim by the state and have few legal rights, have been viciously persecuted not just by Sunni extremists but also by state institutions. Many of them now cannot find jobs.

Shias, who make up an estimated 20 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, have been persecuted off and on since the 1980s, when anti-Shia groups began to be backed by the army and funded by Saudi Arabia to prevent the growing influence of Iran in the years after the Iranian revolution. At that time, there were attacks against individual Shias, though not the large-scale bombings of whole communities that have taken place recently. But under the rule of General Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988), Pakistan greatly expanded its blasphemy laws—which dated from the partition of India in 1947—to make them into a powerful tool to use against religious minorities, including Ahmadis.

Despite being banned several times since 2001 militant Sunni groups have been allowed to continue functioning under new names and leaders. Groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which say their main aim is to “cleanse” Pakistan of Shias, are now so powerful and ruthless that the police, judiciary, and intelligence agencies are reluctant to bring charges against them or put them on trial for fear of reprisals.

In Quetta it is well known that the Sunni extremists who have orchestrated the killings of Hazaras are living and studying in madrassas or religious schools in the nearby town of Mastung, but no police or military action has been taken against them. “The barbarians are billeted inside—long since done with waiting at the gates,” Cyril Almeida wrote recently of the extremists, in the Pakistani daily Dawn.

Now Hazaras, who are among the best-educated citizens of Pakistan, and other professional Shias such as doctors and businessmen, feel so threatened that they are trying to leave the country. A report in the Pakistani media two weeks ago that Australia would be granting asylum to 2500 Hazaras this year caused a rush of applications for Australian visas. The report turned out to be false.

Why is there so much intolerance now? The recent wave of attacks may be partly an outgrowth of more widespread tensions between the state and extremist groups. In Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa or KP province, the Pakistani Taliban continues its guerrilla campaign to defeat the army, unseat the government, and impose its version of Islamic law. In Balochistan, as part of their fight against a brutal separatist insurgency, the Pakistani intelligence agencies have “disappeared” hundreds of Baloch dissidents, who usually end up dead.

The important business center and port of Karachi, with a deeply divided population of 18 million people, is beset by multiple forms of violence—ethnic, sectarian, and gang related. According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 2,284 people were killed in violent incidents in the city last year, a breakdown into lawlessness that is increasingly leading many businesses to uproot and move to Dubai.

While the violence remains unaddressed, the country is heading toward a critical election, the first fully democratic transition in Pakistani history. According to the Constitution, the vote must take place within 60 days of the March 17 dissolution of parliament. But no date has yet been set and it is difficult to see how a free and fair election can take place amid so much violence and so little state control.

The army has said it will not interfere in the polls and will only, as stated in the constitution, provide security to keep the peace if the government calls upon it to do so. On the eve of elections, however, civilian politicians will be loathe to call in the army, which has a long history of meddling with or even taking over the Pakistani government. The caretaker government that will supervise the elections will be even weaker than the outgoing administration and will not have a mandate to go after the extremists. Many fear that the violence will increase in the weeks before the elections.

This should not be an excuse for delaying—or worse cancelling—the election. After all, in neighboring Afghanistan elections were held during an all-out war with the Taliban. Instead the army and the government must work together much more closely, in order to carry out military operations against the extremists before the elections. The demoralized police force, which has been a major target of these groups, cannot be expected to take on such a task alone.

At stake is not just the future of Zardari’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party and whether it can hold on to power, but the future of Pakistan itself. Under the pressure of such violence and intolerance the state risks losing control before it can reaffirm democracy.

March 18, 2013, 11:53 a.m

Ceremony held in honor of Bamiyan Buddhas

Published: March. 13, 2013 at 8:58 AM

BAMIYAN, Afghanistan, March 13 (UPI) -- A memorial service in Afghanistan was held to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban, participants said.

The Taliban used explosives to destroy the massive, stone Buddhas in 2001. The actions sparked international anger.

Tuesday, cultural activists, singers, cinema artists and local officials attended the ceremony, Khaama Press reported.

The lighting of 12 candles started the event, in which participants condemned the destruction of the Buddhas and called it a historical crime, Khaama Press said.

Attendees also called for the reconstruction of the Buddhas to preserve the region's culture.

The region's governor, Habiba Surabi, said the government will step up their efforts to reconstruct the Buddhas.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Terror Against Hazara Muslim Minority in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

7:31 AM, MAR 19, 2013 •


Who are the Hazaras and why are they marked for annihilation in Pakistan? Two frightful terror bombings, taking 185 lives and wounding hundreds more, were reported from the city of Quetta, near the border with Afghanistan, and the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, in the first two months of 2013. They were followed by a similar massacre in Karachi, Pakistan’s main port, in March. Prominent Hazara individuals have been assassinated in Karachi and Lahore. And the ordeal of the Hazaras is hardly new.

The Hazaras stand out among Muslims that are oppressed by other Muslims. Counting 4.5 to 7.5 million spread across Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, they are mostly Shia believers. They have been targeted for extermination in Afghanistan, by the Taliban, and in Pakistan, by Taliban-allied Sunni fanatics. Like spiritual Sufis, they also suffer official discrimination by the Iranian Shia regime.

In 1998, Iranian forces killed more than 630 refugees, mainly Hazaras, in the Safed Sang detention center in northeast Iran. The 2009 Afghan film Neighbor, portraying that crime, was blocked from general distribution in Afghanistan because of Iranian pressure. Nevertheless, the propaganda networks of the Tehran clerical dictatorship exploit the dreadful condition of the Hazaras in Pakistan to promote an ostensible agenda of international Shia unity.... Continue Reading....

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shiite leader: Sectarian attacks are 'genocide'

Posted: Mar 08, 2013 10:40 PM PSTUpdated: Mar 08, 2013 10:40 PM PST

(AP Photo/Arshad Butt, File). FILE - On this Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 file photo, Pakistani Shiite Muslims sit next to the bodies of their relatives awaiting burial, who were killed in Thursday's deadly bombings, during a protest in Quetta, Pakistan.

Associated Press

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslims have started using the word "genocide" to describe a violent spike in attacks against them by a militant Sunni group with suspected links to the country's security agencies and a mainstream political party that governs the largest province.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a group of radical Sunni Muslims, who revile Shiites as heretics, has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks throughout Pakistan. Linked to al-Qaida, it has been declared a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S., yet it operates with relative ease in Pakistan's populous Punjab province, where Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and several other violent jihadi groups are based.

The violence against Shiites has ignited a national debate - and political arguments - about a burgeoning militancy in Pakistan. The latest attack was a massive bombing earlier this month that ripped apart a Shiite neighborhood in Pakistan's largest city of Karachi, killing 48 people, many of them as they left a mosque after saying their evening prayers. So far this year nearly 300 Shiites have been killed in devastating bombings, target killings and executions.

The unrelenting attacks also have focused the nation's attention on freedoms that Pakistani politicians give extremists groups, staggering corruption within the police and prison systems and the murky and protracted relationship between militant groups and Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies.

"The government doesn't have the will to go after them and the security agencies are littered with sympathizers who give them space to operate," Hazara Democratic Party chief Abdul Khaliq Hazara, told The Associated Press in a recent interview in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan where some of the most ferocious anti-Shiite attacks have occurred.

He labeled the killings as the "genocide of Hazaras," whom are mostly Shiites and easily identified by their Central Asian facial features.

"I have a firm belief that our security agencies have not yet decided to end all extremists groups," said Hazara. "They still want those (militants) that they think they can control and will need either in India or Afghanistan," he said referring to allegations that Pakistan uses militants as proxies against hostile India to the east and Afghanistan to the west.

The army has a history of supporting militant Islamists using them as proxies to fight in Kashmir, a region divided between Pakistan and India and claimed by both in its entirety. It is repeatedly criticized by the United States and Afghanistan for not doing enough to deny Afghan insurgents sanctuary in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan. Angry at the criticism, Pakistani army officials say they have lost more than 4,000 soldiers - more than NATO and the U.S. combined - fighting militants.

Yet, police officials in Baluchistan and the capital, Islamabad, told the AP that Pakistan's intelligence agency had ordered them to release militant leaders who had been arrested. The militants were not necessarily affiliated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, said the officials, who asked not to be identified because they feared losing their jobs.

Even the judiciary has queried Pakistan's security agencies for information about their alleged ties to militants.....Continue Reading.... 

مجھ کو یقین ہے

Saturday 9 March 2013

فائل فوٹو –.

بخدمت جناب اسلامی جمہوریہ پاکستان،

جناب عالی،

مودبانہ گزارش ہے کہ میں اُن عام پاکستانیوں میں سے ایک ہوں جو پاکستان کے ہر گوشے میں آباد ہے۔ میں خود کوئٹہ کا باسی ہوں لہٰذا کوئٹہ کے حوالے سے بات کروں گا۔

اپنا صحیح تعارف کرانے کے لئے میرے لئے اتنا کہنا ہی کافی ہے کہ میں وہ ہوں جسے آئے دن مولی گاجر کی طرح کاٹ کے رکھ دیا جاتا ہے۔ مجھے روز قتل کیا جاتا ہے۔ کسی کو ڈرانا ہو تو چھری میرے گلے پر پھیری جاتی ہے اور کسی کو خوش کرنا ہو تو بھی میرا ہی لہو بہایا جاتا ہے۔

آپکے دوست اسلامی ملکوں کے درمیان جاری سرد جنگ کا شکار بھی میں ہی ہوں اور ٹکڑوں میں بٹی سرد لاشوں کو جمع کرنے کی ذمہ داری بھی میرے ہی سپرد ہے۔

الیکشن ملتوی کرنے ہوں تو میری لاش گرائی جاتی ہے اور بلوچستان کو بچانا ہو تو بھی مجھے کاٹ کے رکھ دیا جاتا ہے۔ اس کے باوجود مجھے اس بات کی خوشی ہے کہ میری بے کار زندگی کسی اچھے مقصد کے لئے قربان ہو رہی ہے۔ اگر میری قربانی دے کرکچھ ”دوست“ اسلامی ملکوں کی خوشنودی حاصل کرکے وطن عزیز کی ترقی کے لئے خیرات حاصل کی جاسکتی ہے یاکچھ بلوچ سرپھروں (سرمچاروں) کو ڈرا دھمکا کے پاکستان کو ان کے شر سے محفوظ رکھا جاسکتا ہے تو ”صد بسم اللہ“.

مجھے تو سو نقابوں کے پیچھے چھپے آپ کے منظور نظر فرشتوں کے ان لشکروں سے بھی کوئی گلہ نہیں جو ان عظیم مقاصد کی تکمیل کی خاطر دن رات مصروف عمل ہیں۔ آخر وہ بھی تو دین اور ملک کی ہی خدمت کر رہے ہیں۔ مجھے یقین ہے کہ ان فرشتوں کو ہرگز اس بات میں دلچسپی نہیں کہ ہمیں ڈرا دھمکا کے بھگانے اور پاکستان کو ہمارے وجود سے پاک کرنے کی کوشش کریں بلکہ اس کے بر عکس ان کے جہاد کا مقصد یہی ہے کہ ہم جیسے پاکستان دشمن لوگ ملک کی قدرو قیمت سے واقف ہوں۔

یہ بڑی خوش آئند بات ہے کہ وہ اپنے اس مقدس مشن میں کامیاب ہو چکے ہیں اور ان کے ان اقدامات کے نتیجے میں ہماری قبروں کی تعداد میں جتنا اضافہ ہوا ہے اس سرزمین سے ہمارا رشتہ بھی اتنا ہی مضبوط ہوا ہے جو ہم جیسے ملک دشمن عناصر کے لئے انتہائی ضروری ہے۔

مجھے اس بات کا بھی افسوس نہیں کہ قتل کرنے والے تو اپنے ان نیک کاموں کی ذمہ داری قبول کرنے سے زرا بھی نہیں ہچکچاتے جبکہ عوام کی حفاظت کی ذمہ داری کوئی بھی قبول نہیں کرتا.

میں اس درخواست کے زریعے آپکا شکریہ ادا کرنا چاہتا ہوں کہ آپ کے اداروں نے ہمارے قاتلوں کو کیفر کردار تک پہنچانے کے جتنے دعوے کئے اور جتنے بیانات دئے اس سے ہمارا خون سیروں بڑھ چکا ہے۔ اب کیا یہی کم ہے کہ ہمارے قتل عام کے سوگ میں آپ کا جھنڈا تین روز تک سرنگوں رہا؟

میں نے ہمیشہ آپکے اداروں پہ اعتبار کیا ہے۔ مجھے اس بات کا اندازہ ہے کہ آپ کی اپنی بھی بہت ساری ذمہ داریاں اور مجبوریاں ہیں،کیوں کہ آپ عالم اسلام کی واحد ایٹمی طاقت ہیں لہٰذا آپ نے پاکستان کے علاوہ ہمسایہ ملک افغانستان کی سلامتی کا بھی خیال رکھنا ہوتا ہے اور چونکہ پاکستان ہی تو دنیا میں اسلام کا واحد قلعہ ہے اس لئے اسلام کا بھی بول بالا رکھنا آپ کے فرائض منصبی میں شامل ہے۔ مجھے اس بات کا سو فیصد یقین ہے کہ اگر خدا نخواستہ پاکستان کو کوئی نقصان پہنچا تو اسلام کا نام لینے والا بھی کوئی نہیں ہوگا۔

مجھے اسلام دشمن اور پاکستان مخالف ہیومن رائٹس کمیشن اورہیومن رائٹس واچ وغیرہ وغیرہ کی ان رپورٹوں پر کبھی بھی اعتبار نہیں آیا جن میں آپ کے مقدس اداروں پر اُنگلی اُٹھائی گئی تھی اور ان کو ہمارے قتل عام میں برابر کا شریک ٹہرایا گیا تھا۔
مجھےاس بات کایقین ہے کہ انسانی حقوق کی آڑ میں کام کرنے والے یہ نام نہاد ادارے دراصل غیر ملکی ایجنٹ ہیں اور یہودی لابی کے لئے کام کرتے ہیں۔

اس کے بر عکس اگر مجھے اعتبار ہے تو اپنی فوج کے ترجمان پر جنکا کہنا تھا کہ انسانی حقوق کی یہ تنظیمیں وطن دشمنوں کی آلہ کار ہیں اور ان کے بیانات سے پاکستان میں فرقہ وارانہ تشدد میں اضافہ ہو سکتا ہے (اُنہوں نے ٹھیک ہی کہا تھا ہوا بھی ایسے ہی).

میں نے پاک افواج کے سپہ سالار کے اس بیان کو بھی کئی باراپنی آنکھوں سے چوما جس میں انہوں نے کہا تھا کہ کوئٹہ میں فرقہ وارانہ دہشت گردوں کا تعلق صرف دو مدرسوں سے ہے جن کو ختم کرنا کوئی مشکل کام نہیں بشرطیکہ حکومت ہمیں ایسا کرنے کو کہے۔

مجھے تو ان بین الاقوامی زرائع ابلاغ کی خبروں سے بھی سازش کی بو آتی ہے جو آئے دن ہمارے قتل عام کا جھوٹا ڈھنڈورا پیٹ کے پاکستان کو بدنام کرنے کی کوششوں میں لگے ہوئے ہیں۔

میں کچھ بدخواہوں کی ان باتوں کو بھی سراسر بکواس سمجھتا ہوں جن کے مطابق کوئٹہ کے کسی عام پولیس سپاہی کو بھی دہشت گردوں کے نام، خاندانی پس منظر، ٹھکانوں، مختلف اداروں سے ان کی وابستگی حتیٰ کہ ان کے استعمال میں موجود موٹرسائکلوں اور گاڑیوں تک کے بارے میں مکمل معلومات حاصل ہے۔

گورنر بلوچستان کی نیک نیتی اور خلوص پر مبنی اس اعلان پر بھی مجھے یقین کامل ہے جس کے مطابق ان دہشت گردوں کے بارے میں اطلاعات فراہم کرنے والے کو ایک کروڑ روپے انعام دیا جائے گا اور مجھے یقین ہے کہ اطلاع دینے والے کا نام اُتنا ہی صیغہ راز میں رکھا جائے گا جتنا دہشت گردوں کو صیغہ راز میں رکھا جاتا ہے۔

مجھے اس بات کا بھی مکمل احساس ہے کہ اسلام خصوصاَ پاکستان کے خلاف دنیا بھر میں سازشیں اپنی عروج پر ہیں۔ امریکہ، اسرائیل اور ہندوستان تو ہاتھ دھو کے اس مملکت خداداد کے پیچھے پڑے ہوئے ہیں۔ ان کو یہ بات کسی طرح ہضم ہی نہیں ہورہی کہ غربت، بے روز گاری،تعلیم کی کم شرح، پسماندگی اور بد امنی کے باوجود ایک اسلامی ملک ایٹمی طاقت کیسے بنا؟

درحقیقت ان کو ہمارے ایمان کی حرارت اور ہمارے جوش اور جذبے کا اندازہ ہی نہیں۔ انہیں کیا معلوم کہ ہم بھوک سے مر تو سکتے ہیں لیکن دشمن کو اس بات کی اجازت ہرگز نہیں دے سکتے کہ وہ ہماری طرف میلی آنکھوں سے دیکھ سکیں۔

یہاں میں ایک وضاحت کرنا ضروری سمجھتا ہوں کہ دشمن سے میری مراد وہ لوگ ہر گز نہیں جو آئے دن بم دھماکوں اور ٹارگٹ کلنگ کے زریعے ”گناہ کاروں“ کو واصل جہنم کرتے ہیں کیوں کہ وہ ہمارے ہی تو بچے ہیں ہم ہی نے انہیں پال پوس کے بڑا کیا ہے اور وہ ہماری ہی جنگ لڑ رہے ہیں۔ ویسے بھی بچوں کی چھوٹی موٹی غلطیوں کو در گزر کرنا بڑوں کی ذمہ داری بنتی ہے۔

لیکن کیوں کہ میں ایک اچھا پاکستانی اور سچا مسلمان ہوں اور ملک اور قوم کے مفادات کے لئے اپنی جان بھی قربان کر سکتا ہوں، اس لئے میں تہہ دل سے آپ کا اور آپکے اداروں کا شکریہ ادا کرنا چاہتا ہوں کہ آپ نے ہمارے تحفظ کی خاطر بر وقت اقدامات اُٹھائے۔

آپ کا یہ احسان بھی میں زندگی بھر نہیں بھول سکتا کہ تیرہ سالوں کے قتل عام، تیرہ سو زندگیوں کی قربانی اور ہزاروں زخمیوں، معزوروں، یتیموں اور بیواؤں کی آہ و بکاہ کا آپ نے ”بروقت“ نوٹس لیتے ہوئے کچھ دہشت گرد پھڑکا کے اور چند مشکوک افراد گرفتار کرکے ہمیں اس بات کا احساس دلایا کہ ہمیں مزیدپریشان ہونے کی کوئی ضرورت نہیں.

اب مجھے اس بات کا مکمل اطمینان ہو چکا ہے کہ ہمارے محافظ ابھی زندہ ہیں اور ہمارا مزید کوئی بال بھی بیکا نہیں کرسکتا۔

جناب عالی، کچھ دنوں سے آپ کے عقلمند اداروں نے ہمارے ارد گردخوشنما دیواریں کھڑی کرنے کا جو سلسلہ شروع کر رکھا ہے اس نے میرے اندر تحفظ کا کچھ زیادہ ہی احساس پیدا کردیا ہے۔ ان پکی دیواروں کو میں کوئٹہ کی خوبصورتی میں ایک اچھا اضافہ تصور کرتا ہوں۔ ان اونچی دیواروں کی تعمیر کے بعد ہمارے ہمسایوں نے بھی یقینا سکھ کا سانس لیا ہوگا جو پچھلی ایک دہائی سے ہماری آہیں اور سسکیاں سن سن کے بیزار آچکے تھے۔ اب انکو سکون کی نیند سونے کے لئے اپنے کانوں میں اُنگلیاں ٹھونسنے کی ضرورت باقی نہی رہی۔

آپ کی اس مہربانی کی بدولت اب ہمارے بچے بھی پڑوس کے بچوں کے ساتھ نہیں کھیل سکیں گے۔ نہ کوئی ”ہائیڈ اینڈ سیک“ ہوگا نہ کوئی شور شرابہ۔

اب مجھے اپنے ہمسایوں کی خوشی اور غم میں بھی شرکت کرنے کی ضرورت نہیں کیوں کہ اب وہ میرے ہمسائے ہی نہیں رہے۔ ہمارے درمیان آپ نے یہ اونچی اور پختہ دیواریں کھڑی کرکے ہمیں ایک دوسرے کے شر سے محفوظ رکھنے کا جو مناسب اور شرعی طریقہ نکالا ہے اس کی جتنی تعریف کی جائے کم ہے۔

آپ کے حکمرانوں کی طرح مجھے بھی اس بات کا پختہ یقین ہے کہ لاکھوں لوگوں کو ایک قلعے میں بند کر کے انہیں تحفظ فراہم کرنا زیادہ آسان ہے بجائے اس کے کہ کچھ سو دہشت گردوں کو گرفتار کرکے اُنہیں کیفر کردار تک پہنچایا جائے۔

ویسے تو پاکستان شروع ہی سے اسلام کا قلعہ تھا لیکن تعریف کرنی چاہئے آپ کے پالیسی سازوں کی جن کے مشوروں اور اقدامات کی بدولت آج اس قلعے میں اتنے زیادہ قلعوں کا اضافہ ہوچکا ہے کہ اب پاکستان کو بجا طور پر قلعوں کا پاکستان کہا جا سکتا ہے۔

کسی جگہ کو ریڈزون قرار دے کر کنٹینرز کی مدد سے قلعے میں تبدیل کردیا گیا ہے تو کسی مقام کو حساس قرار دے کر اور ارد گرد اونچی دیواریں اور بُرج تعمیر کرکے مکینوں کے لئے محفوظ بنا دیا گیاہے۔

حکمرانوں کی بات تو میں کرتا ہی نہیں کہ ان کو قلعوں میں رہنے کی عادت ہے۔ میں تو اپنے جیسے عام آدمی کی بات کر رہا ہوں۔ لیکن اس کا ہرگز یہ مطلب نہیں کہ خاکم بہ دہن میں خواص اور عوام کی حفاظت کی خاطر اُٹھائے گئے ان خصوصی اقدامات کے خلاف ہوں یا پھر کچھ دیگر سازشی عناصر کی طرح انہیں عوام کے مختلف طبقات کے درمیان دوریاں پیدا کرنے کا باعث سمجھتا ہوں، بلکہ میں تو اس درخواست کے زریعے انتہائی عاجزی کے ساتھ آپ کے محب وطن اداروں کی حب الوطنی، وفاقی اور صوبائی حکومتوں کی قابلیت اور خصوصاَ آپکے جاذب نظر اور انتہائی بردبار وزیر داخلہ کی بصیرت، عوام سے انکی محبت اور سچی پیشین گوئیوں کی ان کی بے پناہ صلاحیتوں کا اعتراف کرتے ہوئے آپ سے دست بستہ گزارش کرتا ہوں کہ آپ ان سب کو اس بات کی سختی سے تاکید کریں اور انہیں اس بات کا پابند بنائیں کہ وہ اپنی ان کامیاب پالیسیوں کو اسی طرح جاری و ساری رکھیں اور اسی طرح بروقت اور صحیح فیصلے کرتے رہیں تاکہ بانی پاکستان اور شاعر مشرق کے خوابوں کی حقیقی تعبیر حاصل کی جاسکے اور پاکستان کو جنت کا نمونہ بنایا جا سکے۔

مجھے اُمید ہے کہ آپ میری درخواست پر ہمدردانہ غورکرکے مجھے شکریہ کا موقع دیں گے۔

فقظ آپ کا تابعدار،

ایک پاکستانی (بہ قلم خود)،

پتہ: علمدار روڑکوئٹہ پاکستان

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Debate in NA over Karachi, Quetta massacres

From the Newspaper | Raja Asghar

Interior Minister Rehman Malik.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: As Interior Minister Rehman Malik promised to come up with a detailed ‘fact sheet’ on Wednesday, fingers were pointed at the Punjab government in the National Assembly on Tuesday over its perceived patronage of banned groups responsible for terrorist massacres like those of Karachi and Quetta.

During a debate on Sunday’s massive bomb attack at a Shia neighbourhood in Karachi that killed 48 people, there were demands for explanations by law-enforcement agencies at a joint session of parliament, over which both the government and opposition had agreed after a second similar attack in Quetta last month, but it has not been called yet.

Mr Malik, in a preliminary response to some remarks about him by opposition speakers at the start of the debate, said he would speak in detail and “place a fact sheet before you” while winding up the debate on Wednesday without engaging in any “blame game”.

But the so-called “blame game” had already begun as two members of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, while speaking on the admissibility of an adjournment motion tabled by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement seeking the debate, blamed the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government for the prevailing law and order situation — though their senior colleague Khawaja Mohammad Asif called it a collective national shame — and the treasury benches turned their guns at the Punjab government for alleged links with banned groups like Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

Such allegations have been denied by the Punjab government in the past, but no-one did it in the National Assembly on Tuesday except for some hot exchanges with the PPP’s Minister of State for Interior, Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, who first took up the cudgels for his party by referring to such a liaison in response to attacks from PML-N’s Sheikh Rohale Asghar and Chaudhry Birjees Tahir.

PML-N benches later became empty when speakers from coalition partners, including Education and Training Minister Sheikh Waqqas Akram and Defence Production Minister Sardar Bahadur Khan Sehar of the PML-Q, blasted the Punjab government.

However, in a simultaneous sitting of the Senate, PML-N Senator Pervez Rashid, while speaking on a point of order, dismissed unspecified statements of the interior minister alleging a deal between the Punjab government and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and asked him to adopt a responsible attitude rather than one that he said could cause problems for Pakistan with “a certain meaning of his statements taken in London, America and Delhi”.

But Mr Malik, who said he had cancelled a visit to Afghanistan for Tuesday because of the situation at home, was not so outspoken about the PML-N in his lower house speech and called for a joint planning of “our role” with the Punjab government.

“People ask ‘is Lashkar-i-Jhangvi a monster or a superpower’ against which we could do nothing,” the minister remarked, and, addressing the Punjab government, said: “Let us sit together, in a closed room, (to decide) whom we have to catch and whom not to spare. Let us work together, let us talk about the security of the country.” But he regretted the alleged role of the Punjab police in reportedly preventing the removal of flags of a banned group and a picture of its leader from a hoarding in the Punjab town of Jhang.

That allegation was repeated by Minister Waqqas Akram who said he had bought the advertisement hoarding to his home town in order to remove the objectionable flags and pictures, but the armed provincial police prevented this from happening in what he saw as “a small but shameful act” of state or police patronage. “If you can’t remove a flag and one picture from a board, you can’t fight a war against terrorism.”

Initiating the debate, Wasim Akhtar of the MQM, which left the PPP-led governments at the centre and in Sindh only last month but continues to have its governor in the province, regretted what he saw as a failure of the authorities to take notice of warnings by his party leader Altaf Hussain as well as of the interior minister about feared “Talibanisation of Karachi” and said: “We have now lost confidence in the government and are left with no option but arrange our own protection.”

Addressing his remarks to President Asif Ali Zardari, he said: “I ask the supreme commander ‘why you are not taking action (when) you have the powers’.”

PML-N’s Khawaja Asif said that while repeated massacres of Shias and what he called “cleansing” had “made our heads as a nation hang in shame”, the situation had not only worsened but become “worst” in five years since 2008. But he said he expected little improvement or any use of a joint session of parliament when the present assembly and the government were left with only 10 days of their terms, and wished the next assembly and the government to come up to people’s aspirations.

Noor Alam Khan, a PPP member from Peshawar, said he thought Punjab rulers’ “hands are stained” with the blood of victims of terrorism because of their alleged support for the banned groups as evident from what he called some provincial ministers “roaming with terrorists”. He called for the adoption of a resolution by the house on whether “we go for negotiations or go for an operation” against terrorist groups.

Himayatullah Mehyar of the government-allied Awami National Party said everybody knew about the existence of “terrorist centres” such as the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba based in Muridke and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi in Jhang while some operated from occupied ANP offices in Karachi, and added that law-enforcement agencies had a constitutional obligation to act against such organisations.

PML-Q’s minister Sardar Mehar wondered why there should be no operation against terrorist hideouts in Punjab while law and order was a provincial responsibility and said all political forces and law-enforcement agencies had to get together to save the country from fundamentalism and to bring it back to what he called secular path envisioned by the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The sectarian menace

From the Newspaper | Tariq Khosa

IN the wake of the attacks against the Hazaras in Quetta, accusations have been levelled by a section of civil society, media and human rights organisations that the armed forces and its intelligence agencies have some links with proscribed militant outfits like the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ).

There is also a widespread general perception that our security establishment calls the shots on internal security issues, especially those pertaining to Balochistan and Fata.

This criticism against a publicly respected institution of the armed forces resulted in an emphatic denial by none other than the chief of the ISPR, the military’s media wing, at a specially arranged media briefing last month.

At the same time the secretive and powerful ISI formally told the Supreme Court that it had conveyed prior information about the transfer of large-scale chemicals from Lahore for preparation of explosives in Quetta to be soon used against the Hazaras.

It conceded that formal counterterrorism operations were not part of the ISI’s mandate, implying that the Frontier Corps (FC) and the police had failed to prevent the carnage even after being given clear information.

A military spokesman stated clearly that “the armed forces were not in contact with any militant organisation, including the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi”. This realisation is welcome, especially after a change in the military doctrine recently when the army chief unequivocally declared on Independence Day in 2012 that the Pakistani state was pitted against an internal enemy in the form of militant organisations that were planning to unravel the country through terrorism and religious extremism.

The very public and categorical denial by the army command should also result in the institution’s own soul-searching and internal accountability about the patronage of certain militant organisations by the military and the intelligence agencies, especially during the Zia and Musharraf eras.

The present army command knows and understands that security-handling and political engineering by the Military Intelligence (MI) in Balochistan led to the woes of that unfortunate province that continues to bleed due to the unresolved issue of the missing persons, the Baloch insurgency, targeted killings of Punjabi settlers and sectarian terrorism, especially against the Hazara Shias.

While ruling out any collaboration at any level, the army spokesman stated that there was “no reason to think about the army’s involvement” with the LJ. He vociferously added that “there is no way the army can afford this. If such a thing comes to notice it will be sorted out”.

The record shows and all Hazaras know that there was not a single incident of sectarian terrorism in Quetta or the entire province in 2007 because high-profile LJ terrorists like Usman Kurd and Dawood Badini had been apprehended and incarcerated in a high-security, anti-terrorism police force-guarded prison in the
military cantonment in Quetta.

Will the army command and intelligence agencies honestly probe the circumstances under which the LJ desperados escaped from a secure facility in January 2008? Is it not a fact that the LJ Balochistan regrouped under these fugitives and since then has unleashed a reign of terror, not only in Quetta but all over the country?

In my view, the armed forces now have a responsibility to come up to the expectations of the victim Shia community of Quetta and leave no stone unturned to re-arrest the LJ fugitives.

No army operation is required for this challenging task. All it requires is for the Crime Investigation Department, the Special Branch, Intelligence Bureau, and the ISI to pool their resources, share information and help the police, FC and the armed forces for a targeted raid in an area which is outside the jurisdiction of the police.

It is now time to address the civil-military disconnect to resolve the issue of internal security fault lines and stop blaming each other. Sectarian violence is now the biggest threat to our national cohesion and peace.

The timing is also crucial because the next national elections are around the corner.

An inept and corrupt government failed to muster the political will to tackle the security challenges facing Balochistan during the last five years.

A truly representative new political leadership elected as a result of fair and transparent elections will hopefully be chastened by the previous misrule and try to deliver peace and progress to the hapless citizens of a province crying for the healing touch of reforms.

Meanwhile, our security establishment led by the armed forces and intelligence agencies, who have been part of the problem, has to become a very active part of the solution to combat sectarian terrorism, resolve the issue of missing persons, guard our vast frontiers, and actively support the police, Levies, and civil armed forces such as the FC and Coast Guard.

It must do so not only to protect our vital national assets in Balochistan but become part and parcel of good governance and service delivery for citizens of the hinterland of our nation. I wish it Godspeed.

The writer is former IG police, Balochistan.

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