Open Letter From Concerned Pakistani-Americans On Anti-Shia Violence

January 14, 2013 • by americansforpakistan5 comments

The following is an open letter received from Pakistani-Americans expressing condemnation of the ongoing threat to Pakistan’s Shia community from militant groups including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and calling for “a concerted, nationwide campaign to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those responsible for anti-Shia violence.” While Americans for Democracy & Justice in Pakistan supports the rights of all religious communities to live in peace and security, the letter reflects a personal statement by the signatories and is made available here for informational purposes only.  For more information or to be added as a signatory, please email warishusaindawn@gmail.com.

To Whom It May Concern:

We would like to express our strong condemnation of the brutal killing of over eighty innocent civilians in the January 10, 2013 terrorist attacks in Quetta, Pakistan, conducted by the Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) organization. We call on the federal and provincial governments of Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of these and other terrorist attacks against Pakistan’s Shia Muslims.

The attacks this Friday are the latest in what is a persistent and murderous campaign against Shia Muslims across Pakistan waged by the LeJ and its partners. Approximately 400 Shia Muslims were killed by the LeJ and its allies in 2012, according to Human Rights Watch. The anti-Shia violence in Pakistan has not been restricted to a single ethnic group or region. In recent years, it has included:

  • the siege and killings of Shia Muslims in the Kurram Agency;

  • the targeted killings of Shia Muslim professionals in Karachi as well as Hazara and non-Hazara Shia Muslims in Quetta;

  • the mass murder of Shia Muslim pilgrims in Balochistan and Gilgit; and

  • large terrorist attacks against Shia Muslim processions in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Rawalpindi.

According to international conventions and customary international law, these constitute genocidal acts perpetrated by terrorist groups like the LeJ.

With Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf’s visit to Quetta and the imposition of governor’s rule in Balochistan, there are indications that the Government of Pakistan (GoP) is attempting to take action to protect the area’s Shia Muslim community. But an all-of-government and all-of-Pakistan approach is necessary to stem the tide of anti-Shia violence, which has hit every corner of the country.

A concerted, nationwide campaign to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those responsible for anti-Shia violence is necessary. Such a campaign must be conducted under civilian command by the GoP, provincial governments in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh, and authorities in Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, with the full support of the army, intelligence agencies, judiciary, and police. It must coincide with a broader effort to improve the prosecution of alleged terrorists, including the institution of witness protection programs.

Inaction by the federal and provincial governments and other arms of the state has enabled the LeJ threat to metastasize. The GoP must reverse course and fulfill its responsibility to protect its citizenry. Similarly, Pakistani journalists, military officials, politicians, religious leaders who have either supported anti-Shia organizations or have shied away from explicitly condemning them, must recognize the collective costs of complicity or silence and reverse course.

We are encouraged by the peaceful sit-ins that have taken place in cities such as Quetta, Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore, where thousands of Pakistanis have braved the cold to protest against the murderous campaign against Shia Muslims. We are heartened to see support from a broad segment of Pakistanis, transcending ethnic, regional, and religious boundaries. And we hope that the civic unity displayed by Pakistan’s Shia and Sunni Muslims, Christians, and others serves as permanent bridges that lead to a more peaceful and progressive Pakistan.

But a strong civil society cannot make up for weak government resolve in combating the rising tide of terror. The GoP must take decisive action to stop the genocidal campaign against Pakistan’s Shia Muslims. The LeJ, which has allied with al-Qaeda and the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan, is not only an existential threat to the country’s Shia Muslims, but to all Pakistanis.

 We close with the words of German pastor Martin Niemöller, who warned of his countrymen’s indifference to the Nazi threat:

“First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

 

Sincerely,

 

Concerned Pakistani Americans

 

Waris Husain, Writer/ Attorney

Manzur Ejaz, Writer/Economist

Mohammad Taqi, Writer/Academic Physician

Arif Rafiq, Adjunct Scholar, Middle East Institute

Omar Ali, MD, Writer/Academic Physician

Beena Sawar, Journalist/Documentary Filmmaker

Ayaz Muhammad Khan, Virginia

Zaid Jlani, Journalist/Activist

Raakin Iqbal, Architect/Producer

Comments:

5 Responses to “Open Letter From Concerned Pakistani-Americans On Anti-Shia Violence”

  1. Ayaz Khan says:

    Its a cancer that’s destroying Pakistani society. We must stand up top this terrorism and resoundingly say No

  2. Mirza Murtaza says:

    We strongly support this cause & request the GOP to take decisive action against these terrorists like Lej, TTP & all other Al-Qaida related organisations. We also request to clean the Govt. agencies from elements who have contact with these culprits & nurturing them. They have sympathy & called them assets of country.

  3. safiya says:

    This is wrong.

  4. razia says:

    we are, first all humans and then we are all muslims. what is this shia sunni nonsense?

  5. iqbalalavi says:

    We have strongly condemned the killings of Shia, Sunni, Qadiani, Christian and Hindu/Sikh community. We continue in our endeavor to mobilize public opinion for tolerance, and harmony in our society. More and more people are joining us and lending their support. We are sure sanity will prevail.
    The open letter from our dear friends in US is welcome. We are in solidarity with all of you and thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving us support to serve the cause of Mazhabi Rawadari, and Secular Pakistan. iqbalalavi 03009276504

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