It is up to the Pakistani minorities — the Shia, Ahmediyya, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs — whether they want to continue to ask the enablers of genocide to intercede on their behalf or raise the issue on every international forum possible
In his poignant account of the genocide in Rwanda ‘we wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda’, Peter Gourevitch quotes from Plato’s The Republic: “Leontius, the son of Aglaion, was coming up from the Piraeus, close to the outer side of the north wall, when he saw some dead bodies lying near the executioner, and he felt a desire to look at them, and at the same time felt disgust at the thought, and tried to turn aside. For some time he fought with himself and put his hand over eyes, but in the end the desire got the better of him, and opening his eyes with his fingers he ran forward to the bodies, saying: ‘There you are, curse you, have your fill of the lovely spectacle’.”
So here I am again, cursing my eyes but still opening them with my fingers to see what has become a weekly spectacle in the land of the pure and the pious: yet another mass murder of the minorities. On February 28, 2012 armed men stopped a convoy of two buses and a van, travelling on the Karakoram Highway in the Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Reportedly, the passengers had their identity checked at gunpoint. Some of them were ordered to dismount. They were then lined up and shot at point blank range. Nineteen of them died on the spot and eight are reported injured. The buses were returning to Gilgit-Baltistan from a pilgrimage of the Shiite Islamic holy sites in Iran. All those murdered were Shia. The terrorist group Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the executions.
At the time of this writing, the mainstream media had not reported the names of those executed. Let me state for the record that those killed were: Raza Ali, Hussain Ali, Karim Abbas, Anees Hussain, Kaleem Abbas, Hashmat Changezi, Mohsin Abbas, Muhammad Abbas, Mubashir, Idrees Ali, Owais Husain, Kaleem Abbas (of Barmas), Farhan Ali, Faraz Hussain, Tehseen Abbas, Saqalain, Asad Zaman, Ambareen and Fatima.
Within minutes of many obscure happenings the traditional and contemporary media are alight with the particulars of those events — some more trivial than a pinprick on the skin of history. But when it comes to the slaughter of the minorities in Pakistan there is a certain lag time in publishing even sketchy details. And then the tepid coverage itself never goes beyond a truncated news cycle compared to other issues and events that are regurgitated ad infinitum. Hardly an analysis or a talk show ever focuses on such mass atrocities. It is not clear why every such massacre becomes a Leontius moment for the media. Do they find the freshly executed corpses disgusting to look at or is it something else?
But my disgust is reserved for the executioners who stand atop their victims thumping their chests. Nay, they mount the centre stage at the Difa-i-Pakistan rallies in full view of the news media, gloating about their achievements. And what achievements might those be? Clearly, the ilk of Malik Ishaq of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan rechristened as the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) do not have any scientific inventions or charitable projects to their credit; their only claim to fame is the barbaric massacres of the Shia of Pakistan.
Holding hands with these bigots on the stage, spotted every week, are leaders of the mainstream political and religious parties like Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Jamaat-e-Islami. The junta’s court jester Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of Rawalpindi, the son of that arch-hypocrite General Ziaul Haq, Mr Ijazul Haq, a former federal minister for religious affairs and minorities no less (woe be on his appointer) and the granddaddy of the Taliban, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, are also seen on this stage. The common denominator between this parade of hate-mongers is their perceived, known or (in some cases) self-confessed association with the Pakistani army.
Much has been written about the relationship of the Pakistani army and its clients, the Takfiri jihadists, but what is interesting is that the Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik has appointed an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) man as part of the team supposed to investigate the present carnage. Maybe he did so in good faith. After all, many voices from the minority groups have been demanding safety and justice from the pack of wolves that passes for the state in Pakistan. In fact, the Shia and Ahmediyya never did notice that the Pakistani state, in which they were heavily vested, had shifted loyalties forty years ago. It is pertinent to note a letter written by seven Tutsi pastors who had taken refuge inside a Seventh-day Adventist church in Kibuye, Rwanda, after which Peter Gourevitch had titled his book.
The preachers and other Tutsis inside the church had known that the Hutus had marked them out for murder the next day. Out of luck and out of wit, the seven pastors decided to beseech the president of the Adventist Church, Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana — a Hutu — to help rescue and protect them. They wrote:
“Dear leader, we hope that you are well in these times that are so trying. We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families...and we hope that you will intercede on our behalf and try to help us at this time, as a man of influence, as the president of the church, to go and talk to the mayor, to try and help stay the authorities who are planning to kill us.”
History records that all of the seven pastors were killed the next day along with hundreds of other Tutsis at the Mugonero complex. As is now well documented, the Pastor Ntakirutimana did not just fail to intercede on their behalf but, along with his son Dr Gérard Ntakirutimana, actually helped organise the pogrom! The father and son not only pointed the marauding Hutus to the Tutsi hideout but also helped transport them. The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda later issued an indictment against Pastor Ntakirutimana for organising the massacres. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years.
It is up to the Pakistani minorities — the Shia, Ahmediyya, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs — whether they want to continue to ask the enablers of genocide to intercede on their behalf or raise the issue on every international forum possible. The Baloch have a taken a lead in this for they know that those committing genocide and their handlers are repeat offenders and would not stop on their own.