Submitters to hatred

In South Asia on 28. February 2013 at 22:49

Debate does not necessarily demand respect but tolerance. Lack of tolerance and one stifles free speech. The same goes for having difference in opinion on faith. Lack of tolerance on this subject creates suffering. Especially when the intolerant part has weapons, the persecuted part lacks it, and the state lacks writ to deliver security. With certain elements put to place in any given society and we will find violence against those of different origin, faith, opinion being justified. Lack of rule of law is the center most element, lack of equality in the law is another, and hence even if there is law it can be used to discriminate the pariah groups.

Such is the case for Muslims who have fought sectarian fights against each other since the moment its founder died. First being a fight for power, being transformed to politics and later into theology. The differences have evolved for several centuries and more has come by time. One thing is sure, there is no sign that differences cease to exist and that Muslims unite under one complete understanding. Human nature guarantees the diversity, and most humans do understand this, while some reactionaries refuses to live with that, hence rationalize use of violence in order to achieve that goal.

With the introduction of political Islam, concepts of Muslim community (Ummah) were rediscovered. Political Islam had its origin in Muslim intellectual awakening in contact with Europe, but would by the turn of the 20th century be led by ultra orthodox and anti-modernist movements.

The consept of Ummah was adopted by the ultra orthodox and anti-modernist movements as a central doctrine. While tawheed (Oneness of God) is central for all Muslims, it became more rigid among reactionaries, and while traditionalists tolerated differences as had existed for centuries, the reactionaries shunned them and wanted to eradicate it through various means. In modern times it became a global fight due to Saudi funded petrodollars and the well knit networks of Jamaats and Brotherhoods.

The various means has traditionally been missionary activity, not problematic as it has always been practiced. Problem becomes when certain groups do not accept a rejection to their invitation. Retaliation in this process becomes severe and among the most militant of the groups it becomes violent and deadly. Hence one will not accept difference in faith, i.e. other religions or sects, and one will not accept rejection of invitation to convert to ‘the true path’. In a state with rule of law such groups are death with as freedom of religion is central to a democracy. In the case of Pakistan the discrimination is tolerated within institutions and those with power.

The ideological background for notorious sectarian outfits as Sippah Sahaba Pakistan is rooted in the above mentioned history. The organizational background has its base in the 80s and the often so mentioned US-Saudi-Pak led jihad against Soviet-Afghan Government. Lashkar-e-Jhwangvi was formed during this period. As was the proto-Taliban and al-Qaida which back then had different names and in the initial phase of being established. Pakistan Army saw the use of such groups in its war by proxy in Kashmir and to win influence in Kabul. This backfired as neither Kashmir became a part of Pakistan nor did Kabul have a central authority which is positive to Islamabad. Not even the once so groomed Taliban.

While that policy backfired, the rogue elements of Army and establishment still maintained relations with such groups. Militants still claimed their share of the deal; to rid of ‘heresy’ and ‘infidels’. In that matter the violence on the sizeable Shia Muslims were silently accepted. Since 80s it has increased drastically and members of these networks has not been shy to claim responsibility. But as these groups were strategic assets for Army the criticism was silenced. Now as media is more diversified, and with the advent of social media activism the anger against hate speech and murder becomes louder.

After each attack on Shia Muslims the voices gets louder, and the silence of these networks allies becomes even more noticed. PML-N is one such political party which either rejects relations with these networks, or reject them being violent. Lashkar-e-Jhangvis political wing Sippah Sahaba Pakistan has run elections with the PML-N since 90s and even formed Governments at provincial levels.

The recent escalation in violence against Hazara community in Quetta is a live example of a strategic alliance where blood of human beings is sold in order to cope with another threat. Baluch nationalists pose a challenge to Pakistan Army. Instead of solving the grievance of Baluch people, Pakistan state and Army has used heavy hand to curb uprisings. Recently militant networks are being used to eradicate the secular nationalist movements, and again the price becomes Hazara blood.

While our activists and human right defenders can protest and make awareness on issues, only to be ignored after a period, the victims will sit with the anger and grief of a lifetime. And as long as establishment accepts a policy of using militants for political purposes human life will be the price to pay. Strangely enough are the same groupings which cry the highest for a united Muslim community the first ones to shrink it in numbers by declaring fellow-Muslims as non-believers, eligible to be killed or by really killing them.

To cope with this massive machinery of hate one needs to make awareness on the issue even when blasts are not heard. Reactions should not be limited to a couple of weeks anger after a blast, but broaden to a continuous principle fight against hate groups even when they camouflage themselves in ‘civil’ attire, as is the case when SSP again engages in election campaigning with PML-N.

One powerful signal is the following image which says in Urdu ‘from this day I too am Shia, now shoot me’.


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