Ban Religious Processions

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The BBC Urdu Service, while covering the final burial of several people who were killed in Friday’s suicide bomb blast in Quetta, reported that enraged family members of the victims directly blamed the religious leaders for being responsible for the carnage.

Devastated with the grief of losing their sons, the mothers of the slain Hazara citizens pelted stones on the religious scholars who provoked the feelings of the participants of a protest rally which was intended to express solidarity with the people of Palestine.

Initial reports suggest that the catastrophe could have been averted if the religious scholars had not insisted on entering an insecure route which was not even a part of the plan they had previously negotiated with the local police. The family members of the blast victims moved bravely against their own religious leaders and humiliated them publicly for playing with the sentiments of the youth which culminated in the killing of around seventy people.

Abdul Khaliq Hazara
Abdul Khaliq Hazara, the central secretary general of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP), which is the largest secular and democratic party of the Hazara tribe in Balochistan, has also blamed the Shia clergy for inviting avoidable trouble.

The brave reaction demonstrated by the Hazara mothers and sisters merits appreciation. This should be imitated by all the people of Balochistan in order to thwart violence employed on the name of religion. This gesture, however, does not provide immunity to the real culprits of the suicide blast. They need to be brought to justice by hook or by crook as it is the utmost responsibility of the government to provide complete protection to its citizens.

The majority moderate Sunni population should also embark upon a process of interaction and dialogue with its leaders. They should be asked to isolate such prayer leaders who preach violence, hatred and intolerance. The common man in the streets of Balochistan surely does not have any kind of bad feelings for a Shia. Balochistan has historically had a tolerant society where the followers of different sects of Islam coexisted. Even Balochistan has remained a safe place for the religious minorities such as the Hindus and Christens.

Balochistan was the only part of Pakistan from where Hindus did not migrate at the time of Partition in 1947 because the local Baloch and Pashtuns never forced them to leave their homes. Our ancestors always accommodated religious and sectarian difference as a reality of life. Our younger generation should also uphold these impressive traditions.

While the government continues to probe the deadly suicide bomb explosion, Baloch and Pashtun nationalist parties have asked for a complete ban on religious processions at public places. The National Party and the Pashtunkhawa Milli Awami Party, if analyzed through their past politics, have surely not been anti-religion in spite of their secular credentials. Their proposal is timely and reasonable. Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) should also come forward to support this proposal and coax the Balochistan government to completely ban all kinds of religious processions in Quetta city.

A ban on religious processions will understandably disappoint the avid followers of the Shia Islam who would deem it as a contravention of freedom of religious belief. However, it should be seen in a larger context and in the backdrop of the current state of law and order in the country. While attacks on the Shia religious processions began during the dictatorial regime of General Zia-ul-Haq who embarked upon a process of Islamization (read Sunnization), the trend of suicide bombings had not been inducted in the society at that time.

Most religious processions are now attacked by suicide bombers which lead to extremely disturbing death toll. The government cannot not be blamed for its inability to stop suicide bombers. There is no technology in the world that can stop suicide bombings. We need to concede to this reality. Therefore, adoption of precautionary measures is the best way to avoid terrorist attacks.

Thousands of people have been killed in the recent times across the country in sectarian terrorist activities. This must stop now. Shia scholars should also understand the seriousness of the threat and cooperate with the government if a ban is imposed on the religious processions.

The Iranian Consulgari based in Quetta should also stay away from playing politics. No foreign cultural center should be allowed to issue newspaper statements with the aim to play with public sentiments. In a similar provocative statement, the Iranian Consulgari blamed the US and Israel for masterminding Friday’s blast. Such statements are only intended to protect Shia scholars who are allegedly getting hefty funding from Iran to radicalize Hazara youth. In return, these scholars incite violence and hatred against non-Muslims.
Source: TBH

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  1. Behlool

    As I stand on the graves of the martyrs of the Quetta in Hazara cemetery, it fills my heart with grief and anger. How we as a nation has fallen into a deep slumber, forgetful of our responsibilities towards the blood of martyrs who were murdered by a group of savages.

    I stand divided, Uneasy, guilty, tortured. I hold on to what I was taught when I was young, I am torn, torn between what I was taught, and what I see. I try to reason; my delusion of pre-knowledge hinders me. I start anew. I analyze. My people die. My friends are burnt while the rest are slaughtered. I am reminded of the joyous days spent with Chiragh Hussain, the only bread winner of his family and the courageous student, the ever smiling Syed Abbas, the reflection of truth, honesty and sincerity Mehdi Muntaziri and the hardworking and the devoted Raza Zargar. I can still their glorious faces smiling at me. I am reminded of their contribution to the society and the faith. I can not forget their enthusiasm and devotion towards their cause.

    Yet what gives me pain at this moment is the on going aimless debates in various circles misrepresenting their ideology, believes, and cause perverted beyond imagination. What is more painful is that we have turned into a coward nation; we have forgotten the real teachings of Islam i.e. Jihad. Neither we have the religious zest and zeal nor do we have the Jihadi spirit. I think so what if they carried out a procession in favor of depressed and oppressed Palestinians? If raising voice against the oppression is guilt, if this is their guilt, I decide. It is unacceptable. Guilt provokes me, my demons laugh as I stand and do nothing, I sit, I think, I mourn. My empty words, my decisions lie, they fade away, wither into the background, haunting me at night but blissfully far away when I can take action. A blast of sorrow shakes me. Yet more die. Now I am empty, my head clears. Doubt disappears, all falls into place. Guilt goes away, I will act. I will act, I will decide, I shall forge a path, I will fight the liars, the perverters of my belief, I shall shout the truth from the mountains until all can hear it, accept it, believe it, follow it. I will fight for my people, my values and believes, I will act, I will create a solution, and I will see it imposed. Will you help me?

    I would like to clear here the misperception that I am advocating in favor of Mullahs or in favor of those who diverted the procession out of its route. Yet the punching line of my argument is that there is no harm to agree with the principle of raising voice against the oppressors. We should never let the value of blood of our Shuhada be left on the ground. It is time to act for their cause. If yesterday Palestinians were oppressed today we are. If yesterday we raised our voice for Palestinians today we have to raise our voice for ourselves.

    I on this day, take a pledge, a pledge of honesty, a pledge of truthfulness. I take a pledge to understand their thoughts; I pledge to obey what I learn from them. I pledge to further their cause and turn their dreams into reality, their aspirations into the truth. I swear upon God, that I shall be a true proponent of the truth, in every sense of the word. I will be a Musalman, I will stand for my people, my country and my faith. On this day, none of us is a Hazara, Syed, Turkman, Qandhari, Punjabi or Bangash. I am a Muslim. I will forget my ethnicity and embrace my faith that is my true Identity.

  2. Behlool

    What happened in Quetta on September 3rd is evident from just what we have witnessed and witnessing nowadays. We are witnessing a debate into the causes of the tragedy that seems to engulf our society at every level. What matters most is that some people taking advantage of the situation seems to score a political point against their traditional rival religious scholars. In their bid to marginalize the religious elements within the society, they are actively propagating the idea as if such terrorist acts have been committed by religious elements within Hazara Society. The point to emphasize here is that this is not the time to start the blame game. As we are very vulnerable by every account whether socially, politically and economically, I think it is not in our national interest to create any rift within the society particularly at this moment of time. Instead it is high time to analyze those enemies why we are being targeted? Why we have turned into such soft target? What strategies we should adopt to avoid such incidents in future? Who are our real enemies? What are their objectives and by such acts what do they want from us? The way our boys get provoked and display their anger and oust their reaction promptly after any act of terrorism against our nation, as a nation we should have a strategy or mechanism for disaster management or at least we should have an emergency preparedness program so that such incidents could not happen again. Instead of wasting our energies on the blame game it is time to think on the consequences and implications of such incidents. Much of our problems originate from our confusion pertaining to our identity. Most of our youth and even the so called intellectuals are confused about this issue. As a result we are witnessing that the nationalists are criticizing the religious people and similarly the religious people are cursing the nationalists and secular people. While it is an established fact that race and religious both are the important aspects of our identity particularly in case of us. Both seem to have fused so much that both the terms have become equal. Consequently we are witnessing that Outsiders including international community tend to regard Hazaras equal to Shiites. The bottom line of my argument is that we should not indulge into parochial considerations so that it could not cause the division within our society so explicit that we be placed on the brink of catastrophe. According to my understanding our enemies (let it be who so ever they are for the moment want to demoralize us first. Secondly they wish to create a rift within us. Thirdly they have the objective to shake our resolve and commitment with our ideology, values and ultimately want us to abandon our religious practices and civil liberties. It is time to think again that whether our sudden outburst of our feelings and emotions against any particular segment within the society is going to serve our national interests or promote the cause of terrorists i.e. to create rift within the society? One thing I would like to particularly highlight here is that by no means our arguments, analysis and conclusions should cause to devalue the blood of our martyrs as none of them had gone there for their personal gains.

  3. Hasan - Australia

    What a good discussion!! wel, no one in the community planed to take these people to be killed by some extremist of so called muslim. The solidarity protest is something going for many years, it is not started this year. I understand there are some influence of Mullahs in the community of Hazara, but indeed, they play the same role as many others in the community who acts as leader. Unfortunately, the ban may be a partial solution to compating terrorism and extremist. The questions will be whether we will be baned for ever and restricted to our homes. The next option would be banning all Hazara people or religious people in going to Mosques. will it be the next option?? I don’t think any one would like it. Let’s be more focussed and understand the reality of this terrorist attack and the reason!. I am sure you will come with a long list, which one of them would be that “BAN ON RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF EXTREMIST” They want you to be restricted, have no wrights to practice your believes and that your business will be the next target. Education, tollerence, and understanding each-other in fact increase awareness and limits extremist.

  4. Sabir Hazara

    Well, it seems to be ful proof plan that they want to stop the religious gathering of Shia in Quetta. But it is totally wrong.
    I agree with the thoughts of HDP that if one sect religious activities is stop but the other can take their religious rallies, than it is totally waste of time.
    If you want to ban than ban the complete religious rallies weither it is from any sect of scoiety.

  5. mustafa hazara

    salam to all my brothers,
    well my view at this hard time to hazara people, plz dont blame each other, this is not the time to blame, if we see from the past 8 or 9 years we r on target, whether in jaloos aushura or imam bargah kalan incident, every place in quetta city we were targeted, HDP blaming mullahs if HDP knows well what happened in aushura jaloos in 2003, if HDP knows what happened in immam bargah kalan incident, if HDP knows what happened in 12 hazara police recriuts in saryab road incident, in all these incidents mullahs call the people to join aushura jaloos, mullahs call the people to come n pray in imam bargah kalan, mullahs sent the 12 hazara police recruits to saryab road, where more then 100 people died, this is all i think HDP policy against mullah is wrong, specially khaliq hazara making unsenseable statements, against mullahs, i just want to ask from khaliq hazara, if u r hazara, then u r shia as well, n today the terrorists organization is targeting us as shia n hazara, from both sides we r on target, y u r dividing the hazara people, this is not the quality of good leader, if u r representing hazaras as leader, ur responsibility is to unite the hazara nation, whether they have religious views or democratic views, if today we get divided tomorrow our future will be dark, n i think HDP policy is totaly wrong, because they r dividing us, as to unite all,
    my brothers the target killings of hazaras is just not yet started from recent days but its started from 2001 n still now going on,
    we must know that in aushura jaloos, the law enforcement agencies targeted us,
    n on that day 3 sept 2010, again the law enforcement agencies killed our innocents,
    well my request is plz plz plz get united, whether u have religious views or democratic views this is not the time to blame each other, but this is the time to get united, TOGETHER WE STANDS, DIVIDE WE FALL,
    my msg to all hazara leaders plz plz think for the better future of hazara people, dont play blame game, n unit all the hazara nations whether they have religious views or democratic views.

  6. Noyan Hazara

    I appreciate the column written by ur administration. It is much balanced column and the real fact but as u know that Mullahs are very strong to issue certificate of Kafir. HDP had played very positive role in the situation with their balance statement on national / local newspaper but still shia extremists blaming nationalist party of Hazaras for being pro-America or Israel. Mullahs are stebborn and feeling no shame for the said incident. Hazaras of Pakistan and other world would has sympathy with Hazaras of Quetta, should encourage HDP and support them in every front to counter Mullahs otherwise, Mullahs are ready to ruin Hazaras in the name of religion while playing with thier religious sentiments. I hope from Hazaras of the world in this sad juncture they would show complete solidarity and encourage HDP through various means, telephone, chat or writting column, becuase Mullahs are doing very bad to malign the single secular party of Hazaras.