Kohistan massacre: In the heart of darkness, humanity triumphs

Published: March 2, 2012

In 2005, about 10 Sunnis were killed in Gilgit in one day to retaliate the murder of a top Shia cleric Agha Ziauddin by armed assailants.

GILGIT: 

Even amidst depths of despair, the human spirit can survive.

Following the cold-blooded execution in Kohistan of 16 Shia Muslims travelling home to Gilgit on a bus, panicked residents deserted the roads and markets fearing a backlash in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Reprisal killings of Sunnis at a time emotions ran high would have been easy – and the most likely outcome in Nagar Valley, from where nine of the 16 slain men hailed.

Yet, on the same day, elders of the Shia-dominated Nagar Valley took at least 35 Sunni labourers working in the area into protective custody and quietly shifted them to Gilgit before a possible backlash could cost them their lives.

The Sunni labourers had been working on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) expansion project, undertaken by Chinese engineers. Their presence would have set up an ideal situation to ‘avenge’ the Kohistan killings.

However, the elders decided and acted against such plans, The Express Tribune learnt from various credible sources in the Nagar Diamer Valley.

The next day, the Nagar elders handed over the labourers to the police who escorted them safely to Gilgit.

“We fall short of words in thanking our brothers in Nagar for showing respect to innocent lives,” said a delegation comprising legislators, including Health Minister Gulbar Khan, Parliamentary Secretary Rehmat Khaliq, legislator Maulana Sarwar, Minister for Works Bashir Ahmed and Janbaz Khan of the PML.

Addressing a press conference in Gilgit on Thursday, they said: “We also fall short of words to condemn the barbaric act that deprived the region of 16 precious lives.”

In 2005, about 10 Sunnis were killed in Gilgit in one day to retaliate the murder of a top Shia cleric Agha Ziauddin by armed assailants.

(Read: The monster rears its head — again)

Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (38)

  • Zakir Mukeem
    Mar 2, 2012 - 6:25AM

    Time to act against the anti state elements and stop them from achieveing the goal to create chaos and havoc on inocent citizens of pakistan. Pakistan zindabad.

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  • Disco
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:23AM

    This shows that there is no true animosity between Shias and Sunnis, they are been invoked by foreign elements. Cannot find words to express satisfaction and thankfulness for the Shia elders for doing this.

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  • salarmaiwand
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:38AM

    this is a very noble, impressive and praiseworthy act. May these noble and sane people multiply in this country. I am very impressed. thank ET for this positive news, it made my day.

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  • Falcon
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:47AM

    Really respectful act on behalf of Shia community. The only way to deal with sectarianism is for communities on all sides to team up and root out the miscreants.

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  • student
    Mar 2, 2012 - 8:46AM

    Sanity prevails alhamdolillah…. Islam is not the religion of cowards, may Allah bless its utmost to these “elders” of Gilgit, and this blood may not go unanswered, people will understand Inshallah that who are the oppressors and who are the victims!!

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  • Fardad
    Mar 2, 2012 - 8:57AM

    “Humanity First’ should be the slogan of Pakistan, to curb extremism and violence in the name of religion. Otherwise this insanity will continue no matter how much security measures you take.

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  • unbeliever
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:04AM

    there is a religion which is bigger and zillion times better than islam, christianity, hinduism, buddhism and it is called HUMANITY.

    these elders were following that religion, and that’s why they are far better human being than any hindu, muslim or christian could ever be.

    it’s this religion of humanity which extends love and protection to all irrespective of their faith and beliefs (and please don’t come up with the crap that islam offers protection to other faiths, because your actions betray something else)

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  • Bataan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:17AM

    The killings in Kohistan made the head lines but the act of Nagar elders should have been highlighted more. Saving lives is real Islam.

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  • M. A. Changezi
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:33AM

    Good move. Keep the innocents safe regardless of who or what they believe. Hats off to the elders of Shia community for acting sensibly.

    Long live Pakistan.

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  • Bitter truth
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:40AM

    True Hussainis dont kill innocents and thats an example and difference

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  • Seema
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:15AM

    Weldone GB and also ET …..keep it up. you are the bestRecommend

  • Hakim Ahad
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:18AM

    The events are under the control of the state and done by agencies , the fund s come from foreign agencies. RAW has a free hand in this nation who is funding whom and who is raking in money.

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  • Ajaz Husssain
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:21AM

    I shia elders at Nagar really done this with workers then i salute them. This is the real assence of Islam and muslims.

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  • A Shia
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:30AM

    yea there really is no disaccord between shias and sunni except that we’re often called kafir and our neighbor’s kids don’t drink in our house when they come to play because their mom taught us that we’re hindus. Can we now please stop kidding ourselves and SEE how bigoted we actually are? Or no, let’s just stay in denial. Because that is what we do best.

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  • lashari baloch
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:33AM

    it is all because chinese were working in “basha dam’

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  • sonya khan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:53AM

    @ A Shia…. U indians have made us the youth of Pakistan realize what great service Quaid e Azam did by getting us a seperate homeland…..Everywhere u are full of venom against Pakistan and write comments under disguised names….The thing u dont realize is, it increases our resolve to serve our country better and Inshallah we will….

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  • Noman
    Mar 2, 2012 - 12:36PM

    Great deed by our Shia brothers, Allah will reward them. Meanwhile how come our very many guardians, open and secret, not able to trace, catch and convict the hidden hands, who are regularly killing innocents with impunity?

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  • Gilgit-Baltistan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 12:47PM

    We appreciate the act of Nagar brave people—–and this is the teaching of Islam —–God bless nagar people—–there are some good people exisit in this world and they belong to Gilgit-Hunza—*-especially the peaceful Ismaili and shia of hunza-nagar..

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  • Nomi
    Mar 2, 2012 - 1:19PM

    Pakistan is fast turning into a slaughter house. Ahmedis, hindus, christians and Shias and now the barelvis are also being targeted. But sadly, the imbecilic nature of Pakistanis prevail which rougly translates into ” We brothers – no indian can break pakistan, islam zindabad. get out zionist, indian raw etc etc.

    Young children are fast being indoctrinated by unregistered madrases and all we can think about is conspiracy theories. Not a single intelligence agency is asked the question as to why this is happening even if it happens next to a cantonment. But we Pakistanis make a mockery of ourselves.

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  • Lord
    Mar 2, 2012 - 1:37PM

    @sonya khan
    I am a pakistani and ‘A shia’ is true this happens dont live self denial open your eyes and see the discriminating extremist mindset of people around you.Its not a problem with majority of people but its a problem.

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  • Raks
    Mar 2, 2012 - 3:10PM

    @ Lashari Baloch!!! What do you mean by saying ” It is all because chinese were working in “Basha Dam”. Why are you trying to deny the truth..yes truth is always bitter.

    At least they labors are safe..what you would have done if they had killed all of them..

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  • Hasan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 3:22PM

    It is very simple to say that there is foreign element involve… but that is a fact. Who knows USA…

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  • manzr Hussain Ali
    Mar 2, 2012 - 4:29PM

    @Lord, I am a shia and know well that people like you create misunderstanding because being an indian agent it is in ur interest. I think 99 percent sunni are good muslims

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  • Z.Khan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 4:35PM

    Government needs to protect and enable religious plurality and repeal or amend laws and official procedures that reinforce sectarian identities such as the mandatory affirmation of faith in application for jobs, passports and national identity cards. All victims were identified due to their identty cards. But who will get it implemented. No light seems at the end of tunnel.

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  • asad
    Mar 2, 2012 - 4:37PM

    What a pathetic country, where the victims are forced to stoop and the killers roam free.

    Hats off to the CJ.

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  • fazeel
    Mar 2, 2012 - 4:47PM

    As a Sunni, I am ashamed to witness such great magnanimity in the face of such atrocity.

    How I wish that an iota of this character could be displayed by those who claim to lead my community.

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  • Maisoor. A. Nafees
    Mar 2, 2012 - 5:24PM

    This is called humanity, despite having all environments for revenge; the persons were taken in to safe custody and were set free to go. We salute the courtesy and indebted benevolence of the people of Nagar Valley.

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  • Lord
    Mar 2, 2012 - 5:50PM

    @manzr Hussain Ali
    I am disappointed to see your comment.I don’t understand bro where you lived all this years i lived north nazimabad karachi.What ever you call me I amazed that you have not faced any discrimination . As for you saying that most of sunni are not discriminating,bro please read my comment again I have said the same thing as most of my social circle are sunni.

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  • Amjad
    Mar 2, 2012 - 6:30PM

    @asad: Are all Muslim countries pathetic because there is killing? Look at Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria or Somalia. They are all in a bad state because Muslim people show no tolerance. Why does everyone think badly of Arabs,Iranians or Muslims in general in the West? It is because some Muslim peoples don’t show tolerance to differences between people. I know that most Muslims are tolerant and condemn killing but they have to control extremists or at least bring to justice anti state criminals who are paid by foreign agencies.

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  • GB
    Mar 2, 2012 - 8:24PM

    I recall that the people of Nagar valley where 100% are shia andin Skardu where 95% are shia never targeted Sunnis. This should not be taken in the context of weakness on their part, as these people are following the true teachings of Islam as their ulema never allow killing due to any reason unless they are attacked. I also recall 1988, when more than 100,000 people from Kohistan including Agfgan Taliban backed by Zia ul Haq, attacked GIlgit and burned all shia villages on their way and even they didn’t spared mosques and Holy Quarn.

    The moullah are responsible for the ignorance in Kohistan who are patronize by those religious leader who were taught and trained in local madarasas which were established to produce talibans.

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  • GB
    Mar 2, 2012 - 8:29PM

    I appreciate Shabbir for bringing this nice story which gives us a ray of hope that there is light at the end of dark tunnel. The people of Nagar are highly appreciated for their continued efforts to send message of peace to others across the Pakistan.

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  • Aagahee
    Mar 2, 2012 - 8:49PM

    This is one nice news item

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  • Hafeez
    Mar 2, 2012 - 11:47PM

    Why are we assuming that the killers were Sunnis. Such killers have no religion and no morality whatsoever. These same killers are butchering thousands of sunnis as well. So lets get out of this mindset. By the way, Nagar people have done a great job, they could act otherwise, but sanity prevailed.What I dont understand is that despite many such heinous crimes I never heard of some intelligence, FC or Police top brass’ heads rolling. It is time to take responsibility.

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  • Hassan
    Mar 3, 2012 - 6:45AM

    This inspiring action of Naggar people reminded me the Seerat of Khalifa e Rashid Ali Ibn e Abi Talib, When his soldiers caught the commander of a group in “Jamal” who were attacking houses in Basra and were killing innocent people even the Governor of Imam Ali(Usman bin Hunaif) was not spared. But Ali the most perfect human being on earth after RasoolaAllah, sent back that female commander with respect to her house in Madina.

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  • Zaheer
    Mar 3, 2012 - 11:13AM

    Salute to Nagar’s elders! We have to unite to get rid of these extremists who are wreaking havoc in our country and killing anybody who doesnt agree to THEIR version of Islam, even Barelvi Sunnis.

    But once again, we should stop putting all the blame on India and US and Israel and get out of this denial and accept the fact that the planners and killers are Pakistanis. They announce their intention to kill and also most of the times claim responsibility. And mainstream Sunnis disown them. Still, most of them get away from punishment.

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  • Shah jee
    Mar 3, 2012 - 4:03PM

    The nagar elders did good, Bravo. But at the same time Kido to Chilasi elders for acknowledging the fact. God bless you, you reminded us of the era of Khulfa-e-Rashideen

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  • QASMI
    Mar 4, 2012 - 10:11AM

    These are the true teachings of Shia Islam….We never put our hands on innocents… Even the role of Shia Leader Agha Rahat Hussaini . He was the leading person to control the \ anger of shia community and become a reason to control huge bloodshed..Thank you AGHA RAHAT Hussaini

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  • Sultan Mehmood
    Mar 5, 2012 - 12:42PM

    I salute the Nagar’s people’s action, but some comments try to stretch here and there and undermine the whole cause. Many commentors are starting the debate of look who is right and wrong and etc etc.. That’s the whole point.. this kind of language is responsible for all the killing… There are few people every where.. We just need to see what is right..!

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