By: Syed Mohsin Shayan
First things first, I’ve not included “sectarian violence” in the title deliberately to draw a distinction between Shia-genocide going on in Pakistan and the sectarian violence, as it is perceived generally all across the globe. Whereas, sectarian violence refers to Shias killing Sunnis and Sunnis killing Shias, the case in Pakistan is entirely different. In Pakistan, Shias and Sunnis have and continue to peacefully coexist with each other, without any problem. Shia genocide that is going on for quite some time now, is a different story. It’s not Sunnis killing Shias, rather it is Saudi funded and RAW/CIA/Mossad trained organizations that carry on the slaughter of innocent Shias all across the country, be that in Quetta in form of Hazaras or in Karachi and Lahore in form of Shia professionals or in Northern Areas and agencies where the Shia pilgrims and common people are butchered on daily basis.
These organizations (Lashkar e Jhangvi, TTP, Sipah e Sahaba etc) are not the representative parties of Sunnis and most of the Sunnis have shown their open disaffection for these militant organizations, though they continue to operate under their name to create a sectarian rift in Pakistan. Many of the political and defense analysts (both at national and international level) continue to fall in this prey and call this crisis “sectarian violence”, which it is strictly not. It needs to be reiterated and made clear nationally and internationally that Pakistan’s community has not fallen a prey to sectarian violence rather it is only some non-state actors who want to make it look that way. Never has a Shia blamed or killed any Sunni in return of the killings that are going on all across the country and never has a Sunni been found involved in Shia killing. On the contrary, they have stood alongside Shias in their protests against the genocide.
The first point clarified, I shall now move on to the next point which is the focal point of this discourse. Being a member of Shia community, I think Shias have brought it on themselves, to some extent. From the time Shia exclusion started from the Forces, bureaucracy and national institutions (O yes it happened, no matter how much GoP denies it!) Shias have failed to lobby for their interests. Shias should have joined hands with Sunni groups who had been victimized themselves in bomb blasts in Daata Darbar Lahore, Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi and many others, but they missed these opportunities. Instead, a common Shia saw Sunnis as their foes.Zakirs made the case worse by poisoning the Shia masses through their ignorant and manufactured discourses in Majalis. And the result was a secluded Shia community, which if not victimized and hunted by Sunnis, was at least not aggrieved for if they were taken down by someone else.
Now the emergence of Majlis e Wahdat e Muslimeen (MWM) and Shia Unity Council are taking care of steps of solidarity between Shias and Sunnis but the lack of political wisdom and vision and immaturity due to their tender age is not allowing them to be too effective. Also, the situation all across the countries is in such shambles that it would take tremendous toil and time to get it under control.
The need for unity is sensed on both sides and that is why Sunnis are also making an effort to stand with Shias, be it individually if not through organizational platforms. Yet some major confidence building measures are missing on both sides. To effectively oust the chances of sectarian violence and to strengthen the solidarity between the two sects, meetings of highest clerics from both sects should be scheduled regularly, at least on a monthly basis, in which they should chalk out a clear plan to fight with this menace. They also need to hold joint press conferences in order to give clear cut Fatwas against the killing of each other and to take out publications to remove any misconceptions existing on both sides. The role of clerics in toning down the differences cannot be stressed enough. And last but not least, these clerics and organizations, as well as influential persons on both sides should encourage inter-marriages between Shia and Sunni families. This is a historically tested measure of removing differences and bringing peace in societies and this also has been the most ignored step. I realize that this will take a lot of courage and boldness in order to carry out this step in face of all the antagonism from the society, but it is absolutely imperative if a long-term peace is to be established between both sides.
This is a cross post from: http://www.pakistananalysis.com/en/analysis/national/item/329-a-discourse-on-sunni-shia-killings.html