Pakistan on a Genocide Watch?
The stories of massacres emanating out of Pakistan despite ban on media to cover the ethno – political, sectarian and religious violence is crossing the threshold of internationally accepted norms. The chicken have come to roost at home for the original architect of “terror as a strategic tool”. The expertise it gained over the first and current Afghan wars and its experiences in India have ultimately resulted in radicalising the society where ethnic cleansing, terrorism, wanton killings, crimes against women and drug wars have become routine. So routine that crimes against the minorities and women are seldom reported in the media.
The radicalisation process started by Zia ul Haq has now matured and makes a strong case for putting Pakistan on the genocide watch, says Nitin Pai in an article in Business Standard.
A genocide takes place in stages. These can be rapid or drawn out in time. Gregory Stanton, an American human rights scholar and president of Genocide Watch, has identified eight stages, starting from classification of people into “us and them” and ending in extermination followed by denial. Pakistan is already through many of the early stages. Instead of waiting until it is too late for too many, the proper thing to do now is to squarely place Pakistan in a genocide watchlist and bring the intense focus of international public opinion to bear. It is understandable that the governments of the United States and India are unwilling to take up the violence against minorities for reasons of realpolitik. It is understandable that China and Saudi Arabia don’t care. It is therefore understandable that the UN Security Council doesn’t care. What is not understandable is that international media and human rights groups appear oblivious to this ongoing tragedy.
The systematic ethic cleansing in Gilgit Baltistan, the targetted killings of the Hazaras and Baloch in Balochistan, the forced conversions of Hindu and Christian minorities, blatant crimes against minorities and the ethno – political battle in Karachi, growing cases of internally displaced persons and forced disappearances are a grim reminder that the international media has to begin focusing attention of the international community to this epicentre of terror. Statistically, South Asia Terrorism portal (satp.org), has tabulated the terror linked deaths from 2003 to 2012. These are disturbing trends:
Brigadier S Chatterji places the Jihadi Military Complex(JMC) dynamics in focus when he argues that Zia’s Pakistan which envisioned an Islamic Caliphate by pulling away from its Indian moorings has come full circle with a society radicalised under the weight of its own machinations. He focuses on the JMC, which for its quest to retain monopoly over the state, has turned Pakistan into a genocidal inferno:
Pakistan’s strategic partnership with the jihadi establishment has too often been touted as a necessary counterbalance to address its asymmetry with its traditional enemy — India. In effect, it has served a plethora of domestic, geopolitical and personal requirements of Pakistan leaders trying to cling to power, far more than countervailing Indian military threats.
General-turned-military ruler Zia-ul Haq is credited with initiating Pakistan’s march to being global jihad’s epicentre. His motives had far less to do with a military imbalance with India, as compared to projecting himself as an Islamic protagonist so that he could wrest support from the domestic fundamentalist constituency.
The Pakistani military establishment had barely any discernible radical influence then. Gradually, as the ISI grew in stature, radical influence increased within the army too. Beyond military cantonments, the main drivers were the mushrooming madrassas; often the sole educational recourse for children from households at the periphery.
Jinnah’s Pakistan has thus been turned into a state propagating all forms of genocidal behavior with a society increasingly growing insensitive to terror all around it. Now the majority Shias, long subject of forced Shia domination, have turned violent against Sunnis in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) escalating the violence where reportedly 250 people have been killed since the targeted killings of 18 Shias in February this year. JMCs efforts to ethnically cleanse the region has effectively turned the region into an open battleground. Sectarian violence here is an attempt by the Pakistani establishment to deny the local residents their legitimate rights by embroiling them in an internecine war.
Karachi, the hub of ethno-political violence, is soon likely turning into Beirut of eighties within a ‘Lebanonised’ state, says Alok Bansal:
“As neither the ethno-political nor the sectarian dominance is likely to be established soon, the violence is likely to be a long drawn one, with significant presence of Taliban within the city that could be catastrophic. Reports already indicate that the city has as many fire arms as Waziristan. For Taliban, the fractured city provides a unique opportunity to embroil the security forces in a classic urban guerilla war to reduce pressure on FATA”.
The battle for political influence over the economic centre of Pakistan has serious impact on the failing economy of Pakistan as violence dominates economic activity.
The ongoing spate of sectarian violence against the Hazara community in Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan demonstrates a growing nexus between Baloch nationalists and anti-Shia militants outfits. The oil rich province has seen a sharp rise in violence over the years as Pakistan establishment continues to suppress dominant nationalistic demands of Baloch and Shia Hazaras.
With the inception of ethno-religious violence in Pakistan in general and in Balochistan in particular, in early ’70s, the political opposition turned into a violent campaign against Hazaras. Their indiscriminate massacre is under way and so far hundreds of Hazaras, hailing from all walks of life – from poor fruit venders to highest intellectuals – have been ruthlessly killed. Over the last two years there has been an escalation in violence against them in Balochistan, in FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan.The recent protests against Shia genocide in Pakistan on 14 April is a sign of growing dissatisfaction finding voice, which if left unchecked, would further escalate violence in the intolerant Pakistan society. This caricature sums up the situation in Balochistan lucidly.
As per satp.org assessment, Balochistan has for long earned notoriety as the land of extra judicial killings, disappearances, SF high handedness, and repression, as well as a playground for terrorists operating beyond the frontiers of the Country. The Province witnessed 711 fatalities, including 542 civilians, 122 SF personnel and 47 militants in 2011, as against 347 fatalities, comprising 274 civilians, 59 SF personnel and 14 militants in 2010, according to partial data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management (ICM, all data till December 31, 2011).
Human Rights Watch has stopped at urging the Pakistani government to “take all necessary steps to ensure the security of Shia Muslims in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The government should hold accountable those responsible for ordering and carrying out a campaign of targeted killings against the Shia.”
Another disturbing trend is the growing sectarianism making inroads in the Pakistani Taliban ranks and file. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group of Pakistan Taliban, is an ideologically motivated militant outfit, predominantly consisting of fighters from Deoband School of Thought. But now with the heavy influx of foreign militants’ – mostly from Middles East and Central Asian Republics (CARs), it has a substantial number of Salafids. Thus, Salafi Jihadi ideology has rapidly been burgeoning among Pakistani Taliban, posing serious threat to the influence of traditional Deobandi dominance. The open war between army and the Taliban in FATA is vitiated further where each side is taking extreme steps to muzzle the other. However, the locals of FATA are bearing the brunt by getting caught in the cross fire.
The Durand line is a free for all between the Pakistan Taliban and various Afghan groups such as Haqqanis and the Quetta Shura, violence in KP and FATA is the only accepted human emotion.
Nitin Pai opines that:
The perpetrators and immediate motives in each of these cases are different. They range from Sunni jihadi groups targeting people they consider apostates, to rival communities seeking domination, to the Pakistani armed forces fighting insurgents. They are called sectarian violence, gang warfare, ethnic cleansing, kill-and-dump or counter-insurgency. It is perhaps because there are individual names for these crimes that we are missing the possibility that they might amount to a bigger one — genocide.
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) and the International Coalition for The Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) — two prominent international NGOs that champion the Responsibility to Protect populations against mass atrocities as an international norm — do not even list Pakistan in the crises they are tracking. Organisations like Human Rights Watch are bravely reporting events on the ground, but their wide mandate precludes them from focusing on this one issue.
The UN Human Rights Council is more interested in outlawing giving offence to religion than killing in its name. The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), always ready to talk about the world’s oppressed Muslims, can be trusted to maintain a resolute silence in this case.
Closer home, the Indian media stands indicted too. So completely are our television channels beholden to the narrative of the peace process that they are, literally, overlooking mass murder.
The inferno next door has ominous signs of exploding under the intensity of its own flames with serious ramifications to regional and global peace. It is time the international community looked at Pakistan beyond a tool to help resolve Afghanistan to a Pakistan ready to explode with dangerous portends. The time to put international pressure to put Pakistan on the genocide watch list is here and now lest it is too late. After the sordid experiences of the genocide leading up to dismemberment of East Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh, Pakistan is keen on balkanising again. It needs to be stopped!
- Citizens protest #ShiaGenocide in Pakistan (twitchy.com)
- South Asia Intelligence Review-Volume 10, No. 40, April 9, 2012 (theromangate.wordpress.com)
- Shias rally against sectarianism across the country (dawn.com)
- Is South Asia Losing the Plot? (southasianidea.com)
- 8 Shia Hazaras Martyred in Quetta by the Target Killing of LeJ ;15-day toll rises to 26 (jafrianews.com)
- Will the jihadi tiger devour Pakistan? (Rediff.com)
- Sectarian militancy thriving in Balochistan (dawn.com)
- Put Pakistan on a genocide watch list (Business Standard)