Saturday, 31 January 2015

Pakistan: Shia carnage in Shikarpur

In the second attack of 2015 on a mosque of Shia sect in Shikarpur in Sindh over 60 people were martyred, the first attack was in Rawalpindi. Police has been prompt in terming it a suicide attack. 

Reuters reported that Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which last year pledged support for the Islamic State group based in Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility. “Our target was the Shia mosque ... They are our enemies,” said Jundullah spokesman Fahad Marwat

Residents of Sindh showed complete solidarity with the families who lost their near and dear. Sindh government announced a day of mourning in solidarity with the families of the victims and said the national flag would fly at half mast and compensation was also announced for the victims' families.

On the call of Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM), a large number of men, women and children staged sit-in various parts of provincial capital as well as other cities. Protesters said that terrorists are roaming freely and the government has failed to protect citizens' lives.

MWM was joined by Sunni Ittehad Council, Sunni Alliance, Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek. However, many of the political and religious parties remained completely aloof.

Over the years it has been alleged that Punjab offers the safe sanctuaries for militants but PML-N been denying it. In the aftermath of Shikarpur carnage, Federal Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan has accepted presence of various militant groups and extremists in Punjab. 

According to the scanty information provided to media 14,000 individuals were hauled up for investigation; 341 allegedly involved in hate speech; 1,100 warned for misuse of loudspeakers; and 41 shops closed for distributing hate material. These numbers pertain to the recent National Action Plan initiated only but no one knows about those arrested and freed.

The revelations by the interior minister indicate a continuing unwillingness to be as forthright as possible. Virtually nothing has been done in over a decade to clamp down on extremist and militant outfits in the province. According to the minister the groups operating in the province have soared to 95, well above the nationally banned 72 groups that the interior ministry itself has listed.

His revelation prompts following questions rightly raised by Dawn in one of its editorial:

  • Which groups comprise the list of 95 militant/extremist outfits
  • Which additional groups have become active in Punjab?
  • Who are the leaders of these groups?
  • Where do they operate?
  • What is their reach?
  • Who funds them?
  • Which madressahs, mosques or religious networks are they tied to?
  • What attacks have they carried out?
  • And, perhaps most relevantly, what types of attacks are they suspected of planning?
In any investigation, first the motive of crime has to be determined. Police by declaring this a suicide attack has freed itself and Reuters report involving Jundullah is likely to mislead further investigation. Linking Jundullah with TTP is totally misleading as these two groups have nothing in common.
While it is almost impossible to deny foreign involvement in such incidences, the real operators are certainly Pakistanis or those coming from other countries having found safe sanctuaries in Pakistan.

One has all the reasons to believe that most of the extremist outfits have bases in KPK, Punjab and Baluchistan

While these operators may kill hundreds of innocent people in those provinces to spread terrorism, killings in Sindh are aimed at making Pakistan economically weaker.

As such the interfaith harmony is at its peak in Sindh and Shia-Sunni rift is not a local phenomenon. Many in Sindh believe that sectarian killing in the province is done by groups based in other provinces.

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