SOS from Pakistan - Save Pakistani Shias
Governments of Pakistan, USA, UK, China, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UNESCO, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, OIC, European Union, Amnesty International, HRCP, Human Rights Watch, ICG
Human Rights Groups in Pakistan and abroad
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The aim of this petition is to draw the world's attention to the plight of minority Shia Muslims in Pakistan. Hundreds of Shias have been killed in the last one year alone in various acts of terrorism by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Sipah-e-Sahaba, and other sectarian and jihadi groups in Pakistan.
Shia population in Pakistan
Islam is the state religion of Pakistan with Sunni Muslims forming the majority of the population (Europa 2008 2008, 3498; US 19 Sept. 2008). According to the United States (US) Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report 2008, the Shia minority is roughly 10 to 20 percent of the population (US 19 Sept. 2008, Sec. 1; see also ibid. 6 Nov. 2008) whereas Sunnis are estimated to be constituting 70 to 85 percent of the population.
The treatment of Shias
According to the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007, Shia Muslims in Pakistan "faced discrimination and societal violence" (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5). Country Reports 2007 further states that Shia Muslims "were the targets of religious violence" (ibid. 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 2.c). The International Religious Freedom Report 2008 indicates that some Sunni Muslim groups have published literature calling for violence against Shia Muslims (US 19 Sept. 2008, Sec. 3). Freedom House states that Shia Muslims (along with Christians and Ahmadis) are targeted by extremist groups in Pakistan (2008). Country Reports 2007 states that the "[p]olice often failed to protect members of religious minorities particularly ... Shias from societal attacks" (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 1.d).
Source: UNHCR Report PAK102973.E: The treatment of Shias in Pakistan (2006 - November 2008) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,IRBC,,,49913b5e59,0.html
An account of recent Shia killings in Pakistan (from 1 Jan to 20 Feb 2009)
Note: This is only a brief glimpse of systematic and continuous killings of Shia in Pakistan in the last few weeks. For a detailed account of the Shia genocide in the last many years in Pakistan, visit: http://www.shaheedfoundation.org/home.asp
1. On 20 February 2009, a suicide bomber killed at least 32 Shias and injured another 157 who were attending the funeral of an already murdered Shia leader in the southern district of D.I. Khan (Dera Ismail Khan) in the NWFP. Previously on 21 November 2008, 6 Shia were killed and 25 more received severe injuries when a powerful bomb ripped through the funeral procession of a slain Shia leader who was shot the previous night.
2. On 19 February 2009, six Shia were killed in Parachinar when Taliban terrorists opened indiscriminate fire on them at mid-day. They had gone to collect wood from local forest. It may be noted that the Shia are under siege in Parachinar for the past many years. The massacres of hundreds of Shias in Kurram Agency in 2007 and 2008 saw regular trickles of Shias migration. (Over the years, cities like Thal, Hangu and Kohat have developed significant pockets of migrant Shia population. All this area is also the target of the Afghan refugees who have leaked out of the Afghan refugee camps and dont plan on going home because becoming a part of the Al Qaeda fighting machine is more lucrative. They take the identity of Taliban and do a lot of Shia-killing on the side. An informally named ghetto, Shiagarh, is an obvious target, located just 10 miles from Kohat going to the city of Hangu.)
3. On 19 February 2009, a Shia man, Qurban Ali, was killed and another Sabir sustained injuries when terrorists opened fire on their van in the Gilgit area.
4. On 10 February 2009, Mualana Syed Shabeer Hussain Shah was killed near Qureshi Maur; he was a prayer leader at Masjid-e-Kotla-Qaim Shah in D.I. Khan. He was 45 years old.
5. On 9 February 2009, Sardar Ali Baba, 45, was killed in Peshawar. He was the bread-winner of the family and used to run medicines' business. He is survived by four mourning children.
6. On 5 February 2009, at least 35 Shia were killed and more than 50 injured in a suicide attack on a Shia gathering in D.G. Khan.
7. On 3 February 2009, Syed Iqbal Haider Zaidi was killed when terrorists attacked him near Dabal Road, Quetta. He worked in a Wood factory to earn livelihood.
8. On 2 February 2009, Syed Munawar Kazmi of Shia Dialogue Committee was shot in D.I. Khan.
9. On 27 January 2009, Syed Ather Shah was killed by terrorists on Dial Road outside of his home in D.I. Khan. Syed aged 40 years was the caretaker of Imambargah Faqir Shah Muhallah Totaan Walla. Previously on 18 January, another Shia, Ali Abbas was killed in the same city.
10. On 26 January 2009, Hussain Ali Yousufi president of Hazara Democratic Party was killed in firing by terrorist in today morning at Jinnah Road Quetta. The killing of Shia notables in Quetta, particularly those belonging to Hazara community, has sadly become a frequent occurrence. Some of the killings have been owned by Lashkar-e-Jhangavi, a sister organization of Pakistani Taliban. The number of the Shia community members killed there over the recent years has exceeded 300. Besides religious figures, liberal politicians, businessmen and government officials have been targeted.
11. On 14 January 2009, 3 Shia Police officials named DSP Hassan Ali, Mohammad Baqir and Sifwatullah were killed in Quetta, four were injured. They were going to Police Training Centre Quetta at Saryab Road at 10: 30 AM (PST) when terrorists sprayed fires upon them. All killed and two of injured belong from Shia Community. Four days ago president of Shia Conference was also targeted in Sibi (Baluchistan). On 8th June 2003 12 Shia cadets were also killed on Sariab Road Quetta.
12. On January 2009 in Hangu,17 Shia Muslims were killed and more than 35 injured. Taliban terrorists attacked with heavy weapons on Shia populated areas of Hungo City like; Ali Abad town, Muhallah Ganjanokalay, Muhallah Sangerh and Muhallah Paskaley.
13. On 10 Jan 2009, 4 Shia were killed and another 10 are injured when Taliban attacked the Shia converged for Ashura Procession in Hangu.
1. There is an ongoing, systematic killing of Shias in all areas in Pakistan, particularly in Kurram Agency, Kohat, Hangu, D.I. Khan and Quetta, and also in other areas.
2. Taliban have openly claimed responsibility for attacks on Shia gatherings in Pakistan. They are supported by their sister organizations such as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangavi and other jihadi and sectarian organizations.
3. Looming large over all sectarian violence in Pakistan in recent times are various Taliban/jihadi figures, such as that of Qari Hussain, a militant commander based in South Waziristan, who is also known by the nom de guerre Ustad-i-Fidayeen (teacher of suicide bombers). Qari Hussain is believed to be a recruiter and trainer of suicide bombers and has infused his ideology with a virulent stream of anti-Shia sectarianism. This is an approach similar to the one adopted by Abu Musab Al Zarqawi in Iraq.
4. Since the ISI is involved in promoting and protecting jihadi outfits such as Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other jihadi and sectarian organization, the ISI's willingness to curb and eliminate acts of sectarian terror is seriously compromised or is doubtful.
5. The government's failure to track down the culprits has emboldened the perpetrators to kill with impunity. The situation has understandably enraged Shias in Pakistan. The Shia community is exasperated with the government's inability to perform one of its basic functions, that of ensuring that the lives of the people are protected. They are tired of hearing trite repetitions of promises by the Pakistan Government to 'find' the culprits and give them 'exemplary punishment'.
6. While the government has failed, the opposition's and media's role in Pakistan is no less pathetic. Some of them are clearly sympathetic to the Taliban, justifying their acts of terror, despite the fact that the Taliban have openly claimed responsibility of scores of Shia killings in Pakistan.
7. The world at large has paid little attention to the plight of Shia Muslims in Pakistan. The number of Shias killed in Pakistan in the last one year alone is much larger than the total number of Palestinians killed in the recent Gaza war. Yet, there is little international attention to the plight of Pakistani Shias.
8. The Sunni population also fears that unhindered killings of the Shias might cause sectarian strife in an area where the sects have generally coexisted peacefully for centuries. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed its concern that the state agencies' consistent failure to track down the killers may prompt the Shia to retaliate against members of other sects, which is perhaps the sort of violence those behind the target-killings want to trigger. Source: http://www.hrcp-web.org/hrcpDetail_2.cfm?catId=180&catName=Press\%20Releases
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the recent string of target-killing of Shias in Pakistan and the government's failure to bring any of the perpetrators to justice is a cause for growing alarm.
We, the citizens of Pakistan, of all religious affiliations (including Sunni and Shia Muslims, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus and others) are extremely sad and concerned about the ongoing, systematic killing of Shias in various parts of Pakistan. We urge you to take immediate action to stop killing of innocent Shia in Pakistan, particularly in Parachinar, D.I. Khan, Kohat, Hangu, Quetta and other areas affected by violence against Shia.
We believe that the Shia killing is not an act of sectarian violence by Sunnis. In fact, these acts of terror are being perpetrated by a handful of extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis (Salafis) who are currently operating under different names, such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and other jihadi and sectarian organisations.
We also believe that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is responsible for engineering, planning and facilitating these acts of terror in order to execute and expand its jihadi agenda, and to implement a plan to convert Pakistan into a puritanical Wahhabi state.
The sad and gory events of Shia massacres in Quetta, D. I. Khan, D. G. Khan, Parachinar, Hangu and other areas in Pakistan in the last few weeks should have acted as awakeners for the Pakistan Government - especially for those sections of it directly responsible for protecting lives of the people (i.e. Police, ISI and the Army). They have failed to fulfil their duty to protect the lives of citizens who, in the words of the newspaper 'Dawn', are the continued targets of "a one-sided massacre of unwary mourners."
However, given that the current civilian government in Pakistan has little power over the ISI and its unholy alliance with the jihadi/sectarian organisations, we urge that external and internal stakeholders in Pakistan (e.g., the UN, USA, UK, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Afghanistan) will be able to influence the military leadership in Pakistan to reconsider their policy of abetting and protecting jihadi and sectarian terrorists.
If, however, Government of Pakistan is serious about taking steps to control and reverse the menace of target killing of Shias, here are some steps for immediate implementation.
We demand that:
Government must constitute a permanent, high-power Anti-Sectarianism Commission in Pakistan, comprising the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of the ISI, a judge of the Supreme Court, federal minister of religious affairs, representatives of Shia, Deobandi, Barelvi, Salafi communities as well as members of minority communities. The Commission must meet at least once every three months to monitor the state of sectarian violence in Pakistan and deliberate on the progress to curb sectarian terrorism.
Local commandants of the ISI as well as local DIG/SP of Police must be held responsible for any act of sectarian terror which takes place their respective areas of jurisdiction. If they are unable to stop acts of terror or to arrest terrorists involved, the ISI and Police officials must be dismissed from their duties, arrested and tried for their negligence or complicity in the acts of terror.
Terrorists involved in acts of violence and those supporting them within the military and civil establishment must be arrested and tried immediately in anti-terrorist courts (ATCs). Bring people responsible and behind these killing to justices; punish them to maximum limit the maximum time between arrest and sentence must not be more than three months. All of those involved in encouraging or executing sectarian violence must be punished with death sentence because there are instances in which these terrorists either managed to flee the prison by bribing the jail authorities or by harassing the judges through the ISI or Taliban.
The arch-terrorists of Taliban, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who are already under arrest, e.g., Akram Lahori, Malik Ishaque and Hafiz Shahid, all of whom have accepted killing Shia Muslims, shown no remorse, and promised 'more of the same' if they get the opportunity, should be publicly hanged forthwith as per sentences already handed down by ATCs. This will act as a strong deterrent to prospective travellers of this short-cut to heaven.
The mullahs who advocate 'takfeer' of Shia Muslims (i.e. declaring Shias as non-Muslims; creating sectarian hatred) be jailed immediately and tried in anti-terrorism courts, and barred from holding membership of parliament or legislatures. Sitting members of assemblies and other famous 'scholars' who have published the fatwa of takfeer of Shia Muslims include Maulana Samiul Haq, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor, Maulana Maula Bakhsh, Maulana Muhammad Ayub Khan Binori and others.
The madrassahs in which Shias are portrayed as Kafir (non-Muslim) or which promote sectarian hatred against Shias must be immediately closed down, and their leaders arrested.
Defeating the hydra of militancy does require different tactics at the local level, but there must be overall strategic coherency too. Currently, Pakistan is fighting the militants piecemeal in different areas of the country. That must change; the militants must be pursued across the length and breadth of the country simultaneously. There must be no dialogue with sectarian terrorists; they deserve no mercy.
Compensate Shia Muslims affected during sectarian attacks financially; Rs. 1 million compensation per Shia death must be paid to the family of each Shia killed; Rs. 5 lac per person should be paid as compensation to those injured. Other loss of property must be totally compensated.
Provide security and support to Shia not only through adequate police security but also by providing Shia mosques and imambargahs with latest scanners, anti-bomb equipment and anti-terrorism training so that Shias could secure themselves from any future attacks.
STOP SHIA KILLINGS in Pakistan.