By Ayesha Zahid
‘We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another’ (Quaid-e-Azam Aug 11, 1947). The areas that now form Pakistan never witnessed a Sunni-Shia conflict as intense as that of present. There was no mindset that was so enraged with the hatred of the other sect. Thus, we ascertain that someone sow the seeds of this abhorrence. One may point out to the debates prior to the formation of 1953 constitution that raised different point of views for the ‘definition of a Muslim’ or one may move to the regime of General Zia-ul-Haq who wanted to implement a Sunni Rule. Be it the Iran-Iraq war, alleged foreign funding or the internal extremist religious groups. The question that Sunni as well as Shia or any other sect present in the country must ask him/herself is about the strength they could have portrayed. Whatever the factors were whatever the circumstances were. Was it so easy for these ‘unknown forces’ to set the stage for this sect war in the country? Is this the Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam meant when he said ‘We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State’? Let me now direct your attention to the riots that this largest Muslim state has witnessed between the Muslims.
The massive attack of 6 June 1963 in Tehri Khairpur on day of Ashura that took 118 lives marks the beginning of such massive attacks of its type. 6 July 1985 bloodshed of Hazara community members in Quetta is not the only instance of assault on the innocent Hazaras. Firing on Shia leader on August 5 1988 in Peshawar & loss of 800 precious lives in Gilgit Baltistan the same year is another heartbreaking instance. Our attention may then be directed to the loss of approximately more than 600 leaders and prominent people of both the sects. It, not only, is the loss of the single community but an entire nation, a nation that lost its teachers, doctors, engineers, media persons, lawyers and others who could have taken the country to new heights. But this painful massacre never came to an end and era of 90s saw hundreds of killings of both the sects. September 1996 witnessed an aggrieved day with the loss of 200 lives in Parachinar. Almost 100 were killed in August of 1997 just because they did not belong to the same sect as that of the murderer. An ongoing list of aching attacks includes Mominpura massacre of January 1998, loss of 17 lives in Karamdad Qureshi in January 1999, Karachi attack on Maulana Saleem Qadri in 2001, carnage on Rabi ul Awwal gathering that took lives of 50 prominent people in 2006 in Karachi- a list so long and dreadful that one will run short of words . Blasts at Data Darbar Lahore in 2010 or the one at Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine, terrorist attack on shrine in Dh\era Ghazi Khan in 2011, Sufi shrine in Mastung Balochistan in 2014 and the blasts, killings, accusations keep on elevating.
This uplift is more covert. One may ask if the killings are so apparent then this hatred must be outlined as an overt one. But, the culprit of the carnages is not the Sunni or Shia of Pakistan who actually study in the same institutions, who work in the same offices, who live in the same colonies and who befriend each other with open hearts. Their difference of belief, even if expressed at the fullest, ends up in the loud arguments and nothing more. The organized killings come from some organized extremist groups. This professional bloodshed sets the stage for elevation of hatred between the two sects which are otherwise living peacefully with each other. There is a strong need for media as well as other social groups to spread the awareness and to let the world know about these external forces Government has an obligation of probing the face behind this imposed conflict. Pakistan has already lost infinite lives in the name of this so-called sectarian conflict. It already is facing economic, social and security issues. Our war on terror has already created immeasurable threats.
Pakistan will be ripped apart if it doesn’t put an end to this inner conflict. More and more organizations and social groups are needed to mobilize Sunni and Shia clerics as well as the public towards a Pakistan that has no sectarian riots and is more united. Only the inner unity will destroy the cowardly conspiracies of the enemies and will let them know that Pakistanis cannot be fooled by their tricks anymore and won’t fight against each other.