Editor’s Note: This piece by Farrukhzad Ali was first published at Pakistan Blogzine. Below are excerpts from his post. Hazara News Pakistan doesn’t necessary endores views of the author.
Ejaz Haider recently visited Quetta with the purported agenda of meeting Hazara tribal and religious leaders and Deobandi/Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leaders to inform his readers about the situation in Quetta. But what he has finally produced as a result of his Quetta sojourn is nothing short of an ISPR press release. Athar Abbas has most certainly lost credibility, and needs new faces to deliver his messages.
In his August 3 article published in Express Tribune, Ejaz Haider tells us that the situation in Quetta is not as simple as it might seem because Hazaras are actually not a persecuted lot, but an Iranian proxy in Quetta who are funded by Iran and operate for Iran’s interests. The miseries of Hazaras are therefore self-inflicted, and they fully deserve the fate they have been subjected to.
The justifications Ejaz proffers to substantiate this buncombe are: the Iranian government invited 170 members from the Hazara community to commemorate Ayatollah Khomeini’s death anniversary this year; the Hazaras celebrated Shab-e-Barat this year by cutting a 40 lbs cake; Allama Domki is accused of being involved in a Deobandi prayer leader’s murder on July 28; Shia clerics indulge in sectarian sermons; and happenings in Quetta are of an action-reaction pattern. These are the reasons which according to Ejaz Haider have resulted in the killings of Hazaras ever since it commenced in the late 1990s.
Let me take each of his claims one by one.
For Ejaz Haider’s information, the Iranian government has been inviting Pakistanis from all backgrounds (including Hazaras) to attend Ayatollah Khomeini’s death anniversary for two decades now, and the list of invitees includes politicians, army officers, journalists, members of several religious parties, as well as ordinary citizens. The list of the invitees also includes names such as Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Munauwar Hasan, and Gen. Hamid Gul. So should we accept Ejaz Haider’s apology that Hazaras are being killed because Iran invited 170 of their members to attend Ayatollah Khomeini’s death anniversary in 2011? By the way, most of the 170 Hazaras who visited Iran this year were actually women and children, for whom the visit entailed no political connotations.
Shab-e-Barat celebrations in Quetta are as old a story as Hazaras themselves, and have never included sectarian sermons. Shab-e-Barat in Quetta, like elsewhere, is celebrated by using firecrackers, holding poetry recital gatherings and cutting of cakes – including one 40 lbs this year, which according to Ejaz Haider, was funded by Iran and resulted in killings of Hazaras. For his information, this wasn’t the first instance of a 40 lbs cake being cut – it is a tradition which has continued for quite a while now. And a 40 lbs cake in Quetta costs something like Rs. 6000, which doesn’t necessarily have to come from Iran. Half a million Shias in Quetta can afford to pool that much money. Ejaz probably mortgaged to Khakis his mind along with his character to become their spokesperson.
Allama Maqsood Domki’s involvement in Maulana Karim Mengal’s murder seems far from possible for several reasons. First of all, Domki – a Baloch – is not a native of Quetta and is therefore disliked by the somewhat ethnocentric Hazaras. During the past decade in which he tried to find footholds in the Hazara dominated areas of Quetta, not only did he fail, he was driven out of the Hazara localities. Assuming that the assassin was indeed Domki’s accomplice and hailed from Dera Allah Yar, can Ejaz Haider educate us as to where could he perish instantly after the attack keeping in view the fact that due to Hazaras’ distinct features and their abhorrence for Domki, he couldn’t seek refuge in the Hazara dominated areas which are the only Shia populated localities in Quetta? Does Ejaz Haider even know that Jaffaria Alliance is dysfunctional in Balochistan and doesn’t even command a dozen followers?
Ejaz Haider’s claim of indulgence of Shia clerics in sectarian sermons is perhaps the most ludicrous of all. While this may be construed as either their spinelessness or diplomacy, Shia clerics in Quetta do not indulge in sectarian rhetoric. Even while carrying dozens of corpses, instead of sloganeering against any other sect, they conveniently blame either some unknown enemies of Islam, or US and Israel – the easy punch bags. If Ejaz Haider insists he is right in his claim, I throw him a wager to name a single such cleric, or produce a single such sermon (which should most certainly be recorded by the ISI, and will be in easy access to him).
Ejaz Haider’s equation of the death of over 500 Shias of Quetta with the assassination of a Deobandi prayer leader, killed on July 28 is appalling, and characteristic of the cold and inhuman Khaki behavior. Ejaz Haider’s simplistic khaki logic deduces that the situation in Quetta is in fact a two-sided sectarian war, in which both the antagonists are killing each other. He conveniently ignores that Shia killings have been taking place for over a decade now, and during all this period, not a single act of violence can be traced back to them. This is not a sectarian war, but systemic genocide of a single sect. Isn’t it ridiculous to say that Shias in Quetta were killed between 2001 and 2011, because a Deobandi prayer leader was killed on 28th July 2011 by unknown assailants? This is exactly what Ejaz Haider is telling us.
As previously stated, Ejaz Haider’s purpose of visiting Quetta and penning a concocted version of the happenings there is to allay even the marginal feelings of sympathy for the peripheral Hazaras, in mainland Pakistan. He serves the agenda of his Khaki masters well by telling his readers that Hazaras are not innocent citizens under fire, but Iranian agents who are under strict control of war-mongering Shia clerics involved in murders of Deobandi clerics. By presenting the situation as an action-reaction binary, he tries to deprive Hazaras of the higher moral stead, and reduces them to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s level and holds them equally responsible for violence.
By trying to prove Iran and Hazaras as the main culprits who have provoked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for violence, Ejaz Haider has absolved the Pakistani state, especially the ISI, of any culpability. By doing so, he is insidiously arousing the sentiments of the common Pakistanis against the Shias of Quetta, and sedating their consciences with the allegations of treason and violence against the latter.