Our Gaza, our Karbala

Published: November 24, 2012

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk

A people who are defenceless, innocent, out-powered and outgunned are being attacked and killed while the world watches. However, the world does not watch in silence. Worse, excuses are being made for the killers. The victim is being blamed. The murdered has brought it upon him. Can it be termed a war if only one side does all the killing? Nothing has been done to provoke the aggressor, yet it remains provoked, because it wants to be provoked, because it can. Innocent women and children murdered in cold blood. Even before the killing takes place, the apologists have the script ready. Sounds familiar, all of this, does it not? A state of affairs that is easy to condemn. It seems not.

One almost forgets what situation one is talking about. Gaza is a prison, where the inmates are killed for very little provocation, if any. They are being attacked for existing. That is enough provocation. It is not only the misery of a brutal death, but also dying in the knowledge that the world does not care, or perhaps, is with the aggressor. In recent days, the reaction of the Pakistani public, civil society and the media suggests that we are capable of the elementary task of condemnation of such brutality.

However, not always, not all cases of oppression are treated on a par. All conditions of systematic race murder are present right here at home. Shias are being killed through an orchestrated scheme. They are being killed for the reason of being Shia, for existing. The apologists are making excuses for the killing. Do not call it “genocide”. There are so many other people killed in Pakistan, Karachi everyday why do you focus exclusively on the Shias? Then there are apologies and excuses which come in the garb of pseudo-nationalism and inclusive rhetoric along the lines why do you insist on calling them “Shia” Muslim, let us just say Pakistanis/Muslims are being killed. Only a moral idiot would say that “Arabs” are being killed in the Israel-Palestine “conflict”. Only a moral idiot would say that “Germans” or “Europeans” were being killed in the Holocaust. Surely, it is too generic, too vague. Those in Gaza are killed because they are Palestinians and because they are Muslims. Those killed in the Holocaust were killed because they were Jewish. The “Shia” are being murdered in Pakistan because they are Shia. To ignore that is malicious or cowardly or both.

To call this “sectarian conflict or strife” is as accurate as calling the aggression of Israel on the Gaza strip as a “war”. I oppose the ideology, religious rhetoric and methods of Hamas and of all religiously motivated enterprises. However, when it comes to the people of Gaza, it is not a war; it is an assault. It is heartening to see our people recognise this basic principle in the Israel-Palestine situation. At the same time, it is disturbing and distressing to see their failure or worse, unwillingness to do so in the case of the Shias, right here. Let us start by condemning the murder and oppression at home and then move to the World. Or at the very least, do both simultaneously. The Shias of Pakistan need and deserve everyone’s sympathy, support and outrage more than everyone else.

In the recent past, there has been a lot of discussion and rightly so on the reluctance to name the enemy directly by political leadership. In case of the sectarian murderous organisations, the unwillingness and fear is even more palpable. How many times have you heard any mainstream political leader condemn the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), ASWJ or the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) by name? How many times has the need of a crackdown on these terror outfits been publicly discussed by the media? Well, I say let us discuss it now. Let us do it now. The media, in many cases, does not even mention the sectarian affiliations of those murdered. The television channels give the leaders of these banned, sectarian outfits more time than to the victims. The point of view of the murderer is the dominant view, the only view.

The talk of courage by political parties sounds hollow, when there is complete silence on the issue of these sectarian militant organisations. There are reasons for that, they are afraid of the TTP, yet it is still distant (it should not be, but unfortunately that is the perception). Israeli forces are again far away and much bravado can be displayed. Whereas the SSP/ASWJ and LeJ are within us, political parties have affiliations, arrangements, there are votes to be gained and lost. Then there is also fear.

The Punjab government has a lot to answer for on this question. The Punjab law minister when questioned about publicly consorting with these outfits almost responded by saying everyone does it. Malik Ishaq was reportedly paid a stipend for the time he was in custody and later on acquitted by our independent judiciary, partially because of poor prosecution. The Punjab law minister has outdone himself now. When asked about the attacks on the recent procession in Rawalpindi, he advised Shias not to hold processions publicly because that makes them a target. He should be fired for making this vile statement. Strongly implied in the statement was that Shia Muslims provoke the ASWJ and the LeJ by mourning in public, by merely existing; not even a weak pretence of the home-made rockets fired on Tel Aviv.

The Israeli forces have rightly been reminded (not enough though) to ponder whether they are acting as true heirs of the Holocaust victims. Has some cruel irony of fate, swapped the roles of the Israeli forces today with those perpetrators of yesterday? You will read this on the Tenth of Muharram. The parallels of Karbala and Gaza are obvious. Equally obvious should be the parallels between Pakistan today and Karbala. The legacy of Imam Hussain (RA) and Karbala is of all humanity. We in Pakistan have to ask ourselves, whether we can today rightly claim ourselves as heirs of Imam Hussain (RA). No we cannot. We, today, have a Gaza Strip of our own. We today have a Karbala of our own.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2012.

Reader Comments (48)

  • Syed Hasan Mustafa
    Nov 24, 2012 - 11:23PM

    All truth and solution is only for Pakistani Nation, to participate on 10th Moharm processions as a whole to eliminate terrorism/ yazeediat from Pakistan for ever

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  • Jat
    Nov 24, 2012 - 11:28PM

    Impassioned plea, very well put forward by the author, and it will be ignored as usual, since it does not fit the establishment’s narrative. Only those who are directly affected by this “slow” Genocide will understand.

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  • Jat
    Nov 24, 2012 - 11:31PM

    Mr Saroop Ijaz, this is the second or third time you have come out strongly against these murderers. Hope you take all practical and commonsense safety precautions.

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  • sabi
    Nov 24, 2012 - 11:44PM

    Sarop
    What you want is not going to happen.It’s too late really.Things have fallen apart.They have to reap the crop-Bumper crop!.No way out.

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  • lalai
    Nov 24, 2012 - 11:46PM

    Today is Ashura e Muharram and Pakistanis are commemorating the sacrifices of Imam Hussian and his colleagues. but what they lack is the character to call spade a spade and it is across the board irrespective of they are politician, generals, judges or journalist. Completely agreed with the writer.

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  • Kanwal
    Nov 24, 2012 - 11:49PM

    this is such a nice attempt on behalf of the author. We make apologies for killing a sect that is a huge minority in his country and then give suggestions to the persecuted to get confined into indoor places. Does anyone remember how many Ahmadi places have been targeted in the current year in Panjab only? They stay indoors, dont they. The whole point about giving minority rights is to give them space, security and sense of acceptance in the society. Has anyone ever come across a shia suicide bomber? I have nt yet. And i would much rather a many shias as my neighbors and fellows as possible, compared to the SSP terrorists mentioned in this article. The Ahl e Sunnat scholars need to condemn them openly and BAN the name “ASWJ” because its an insult to the ahl e sunnat of this country.
    Just a day ago, there was actually a debate started in one other English daily asking about the processions in moharram. The news paper had the gall to ask everybody about how the processions must take place whereas it is the right of shias to decide how they do their rituals.
    Its and organised crime taking place against a group of people who have a huge street power and presence and are non-violent. this country is gone to dogs already. I am glad i left Pakistan when i did.

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  • Falcon
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:02AM

    Well articulated and fully agree. How can we even forgive ourselves for allowing this oppression in our backyard? My only objection is author’s viewpoint that discussion is not happening in media or by political parties. This sends out a wrong message as if most of the people in Pakistan don’t care. I have seen many political shows in the last few days that talk about this issue in detail. So there is hope, we just need to accelerate the pace and depth of discussion.

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  • Fed Up Indian
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:05AM

    Whenever a country is created based on redundant theories, like the Two-Nation Theory (i.e. Hindus and Muslims cannot live together), it is bound to degenerate into their baser versions with the passage of time unless the ideology of the country itself is overhauled.
    The Two-Nation Theory will soon break down into the Two-Muslim Theory in Pakistan (Sunnis and Shias cannot live together, since the Ahmadis are ‘non-Muslim’ already). Soon this will also dissipate into the Two-Sect Theory (Barelvis and Deobandis cannot live together) and finally lead to the dissolution of the land.

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  • ali
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:17AM

    First of all, well done to the author for his daring stance/column against silence of the so called Muslim leaders and Muslim nations who can not stand against oppression but rather try to justify their coward acts or evilness. Its a pity as we proud to be a muslim but even don’t familiar with the meanings of humanity (what we do …. can not even reflect as human). whats happening in Palestine and Syria and the silence of the whole world apart from few countries, especially so called the champions of the Muslim, but i should say the support of the Champions of the Muslim to the oppressors against innocent people is ???????? for me and whole human world. If any one know the reason please help me to understand this….. with facts

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  • Mirza
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:26AM

    Dear SI, I am sorry that I cannot help the situation and ashamed of that. You are right there is a war going on between good and bad. Right now the bad has all the arms and power and the good is being slaughtered in front of our own eyes. This is like Gaza the only difference is the killers call themselves Muslims and not wearing a uniform. These are hate crimes and crimes against humanity. There is no reason or excuse big enough for these crimes against men, women, old and young. Just like even after the cease fire the blood thirsty Israeli army killed innocent farmer and injured a couple of dozen Palestinians. Yet we see many justifying these terrorists and calling them jihadist. The fact is our rightwing parties know full well that minorities, Shia and Ahmedis are not going to vote for them so why not cleanse them all? My own relatives were against ZAB just because he was Shia and deserved death. That process is only going to get worse I am sorry to say.

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  • Sultan
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:41AM

    Blame it all on PTI, especially Imran Khan.

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  • Parvez
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:45AM

    Very well written.

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  • shah
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:47AM

    well done Ijaz… valid and motivating write up…Recommend

  • Arifq
    Nov 25, 2012 - 1:06AM

    Bless you Saroop for taking up this cause but shame on us all for allowing this to reach this point!

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  • Nadir
    Nov 25, 2012 - 1:20AM

    They demanded an inch, we gave a mile. For some reason everyone in Pakistan seems to believe that the ultimate gesture of religious devotion is the murder of someone that you do not agree with. Effectively, large swaths of the country have been handed over to people who believe that murder and assassination is gods work. Be it FATA, Balochistan, Souther Punjab….to be exact anywhere across the country. I cannot really think of any part of the country where a religious fanatic, offering bounties and calling on his followers to murder fellow Pakistanis would be prosecuted and tossed into jail. We have a hard enough time getting people to obey traffic signals, thinking that we can muster nationwide support to enforce the law against terrorists is a distant dream. Time for applying some “broken glass” theory of thwarting crime.

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  • A Chaudhry
    Nov 25, 2012 - 2:16AM

    Stop wasting your tiem on gaza and concentrate on Pakistan.Recommend

  • Imran
    Nov 25, 2012 - 2:19AM

    Bravo! May Allah give you more courage and strength to speak for the oppressed in the future. Keep it up!

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  • alucard
    Nov 25, 2012 - 3:10AM

    Interesting article, but I have to disagree on some points. Firstly the state of Israel is not a dream but a reality we need to get used to. Second, if Israel needs so little provocation to act, why does Hamas continue to launch rockets at Israel knowing that they are ineffective and the consequences on the civilian population are not worth it? Instead its time for the failed Palestinian leadership to unite on the 2-state solution and bring peace to their people. The suffering of Palestinians is tragic but the fact remains that the whole Arab world does not have the moral courage or fortitude to undo the historical wrong suffered by the Palestinians so they should learn to live with it.

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  • Nov 25, 2012 - 3:56AM

    Excellent article and thankyou for showing courage !

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  • Dr.Nasr
    Nov 25, 2012 - 5:28AM

    Very well written and fearless representation of facts.

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  • K B Kale
    Nov 25, 2012 - 6:48AM

    I had suggested in my response in ‘Jakarta Post’ that UN install a geo-stationary satellite over the Gaza-Israeli border to observe & record all events of aerial attacks across it & announce to the world at large who started the mischief.

    Today, the world reacts in a “default” manner. Gazans complain of Israeli aerial bombardment on one hand while Israel complains of missile attacks from Gaza that trigger Israeli retaliation. West sides with Israel while Muslim world sides with Palestinians, both without knowing who fired the first salvo!

    Why can’t UN do this & act like a “Third Umpire” and declare who is at fault.

    The World then could react more intelligently based on ‘who did it’!

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  • K B Kale
    Nov 25, 2012 - 6:51AM

    I had suggested in my response in ‘Jakarta Post’ that UN install a geo-stationary satellite over the Gaza-Israeli border to observe & record all events of aerial attacks across it & announce to the world at large who started the mischief.

    Today, the world reacts in a “default” manner. Gazans complain of Israeli aerial bombardment on one hand while Israel complains of missile attacks from Gaza that trigger Israeli retaliation. West sides with Israel while Muslim world sides with Palestinians, both without knowing who fired the first salvo!

    Why can’t UN do this & act like a “Third Umpire” and declare who is at fault.

    The World then could react more intelligently based on ‘who did it’!Recommend

  • a human
    Nov 25, 2012 - 8:22AM

    Really, an eye-opening comparison with very accurate parallels drawn.

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  • Shahzad
    Nov 25, 2012 - 10:03AM

    Well said ” The legacy of Imam Hussain (RA) and Karbala is of all humanity. We in Pakistan have to ask ourselves, whether we can today rightly claim ourselves as heirs of Imam Hussain (RA). No we cannot. We, today, have a Gaza Strip of our own. We today have a Karbala of our own.”

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  • gp65
    Nov 25, 2012 - 12:50PM

    @Nadir: All that you say is true. But a problem must be correctly defined before it can be solved. The constant cry that Muslims could not possibly kill other Muslims hence this must be the work of CIA/RA/Mossad serves as a very convenient (for the terrorist) distraction and obfuscates real issues.

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  • sgrr
    Nov 25, 2012 - 3:13PM

    I salute the writer on his courageous column.

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  • ss
    Nov 25, 2012 - 4:33PM

    we have our own Gaza ‘Parachinar’ which is under Taliban siege since decades and world doesn’t even know about it

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  • Nov 25, 2012 - 6:07PM

    “Let us start by condemning the murder and oppression at home and then move to the World. Or at the very least, do both simultaneously. The Shias of Pakistan need and deserve everyone’s sympathy, support and outrage more than everyone else.”
    So aptly put. Dear Sir I agree with every word. i wonder if it will have any effect. God bless you.

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  • Hasan
    Nov 25, 2012 - 6:44PM

    I commend not only the author, but also ET, for only today a comment by me – much lighter than what Saroop has said – in response to a leading English newspaper’s suggestion to have “Low-Key Ashura” indoors did not see the light of the day.

    May Allah keep you safe.

    http://criticalppp.com/archives/231585

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  • shakrullah
    Nov 25, 2012 - 8:10PM

    Saroop :

    Have you sent a copy to Barak Obama ? And to all Pakistani leaders who keep

    telling the world ( and to themselves ) that in Pakistan minorities ‘enjoy’ equal

    rights as citizens ?

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  • M. Iqbal
    Nov 25, 2012 - 11:24PM

    Our religion does not say exterminate other sects. Our religion is one of tolerance and love. It is based on the principle of live and let live. This country was not created for only one sect of Islam. It was created in the name of Islam which encompasses all sects of Islam. These people being killed are MUSLIMS first and foremost and PAKISTANIS, fellow brothers and citizens of the same country created by the same founder for ALL MUSLIMS. Their killings and their continued killings reflect the failure of our country, our system, our government and our people. Shame on us all

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  • Syed
    Nov 26, 2012 - 2:13AM

    Shias and Sunni should attend and participate in the procession together. This would be a slap on the face of terrorists.

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  • obaid sahi
    Nov 26, 2012 - 2:17AM

    very wel written…

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  • ahsan shah UK
    Nov 26, 2012 - 2:50AM

    The Punjab law minister when questioned about publicly consorting with these outfits almost responded by saying everyone does it. Malik Ishaq was reportedly paid a stipend for the time he was in custody and later on acquitted by our independent judiciary, partially because of poor prosecution. The Punjab law minister has outdone himself now. When asked about the attacks on the recent procession in Rawalpindi, he advised Shias not to hold processions publicly because that makes them a target. He should be fired for making this vile statement. Strongly implied in the statement was that Shia Muslims provoke the ASWJ and the LeJ by mourning in public, by merely existing; not even a weak pretence of the home-made rockets fired on Tel Aviv.

    Recommend

  • Adnan
    Nov 26, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Saroop, God bless you and your family (Ameen).

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  • Shabbir
    Nov 26, 2012 - 11:03AM

    Very Nice Article SI….Majority of Silent Pakistani people should stoop up against terrorism otherwise Fire is fire, every one will die………

    Saroop Ijaz, God bless u..

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  • Just another shia
    Nov 26, 2012 - 11:08AM

    Sarop,
    you broke me into tears….. atleast someone is talking sense in this mad house … very well written may Allah give you more courage of saying the truth out loud .. I remember one of Imam’s (A.S.) sayings “Each and every of our followers is fighting his own karbala” no doubt in saying that Pakistani Shias are fighting their very own karbala … thanx ET for providing space to this piece.

    Recommend

  • Sajida
    Nov 26, 2012 - 11:09AM

    What about Congo? Its citizens have been suffering for a longer time and there is more that is happening right now. What has happened in Gaza has gotten more notice than the terrible things happening in Congo,.

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  • shahid
    Nov 26, 2012 - 12:25PM

    “The legacy of Imam Hussain (RA) and Karbala is of all humanity. We in Pakistan have to ask ourselves, whether we can today rightly claim ourselves as heirs of Imam Hussain (RA). No we cannot. We, today, have a Gaza Strip of our own. We today have a Karbala of our own”
    .
    Yes I agree 100% with Saroop . Weldon keep it up

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  • Mustafa
    Nov 26, 2012 - 5:28PM

    I have to strongly disagree on the point that “We have a Karbala of our own”

    What is happening in Gaza is nothing like what happened in Karbala. Yes I do condemn what is happening in Gaza and on the fact that all muslim state are silent on this issue.

    Gaza is not your Karbala!

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  • Mustafa
    Nov 26, 2012 - 5:29PM

    What is happening in Gaza is nothing like what happened in Karbala. Yes I do condemn what is happening in Gaza and on the fact that all muslim state are silent on this issue.

    Gaza is not your Karbala!

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  • Eye
    Nov 26, 2012 - 6:13PM

    Attack us you Takfeeris, you only make us stronger. The Lashkar of the Mahdi (as) is being born in Pakistan. Through this violence, the people learn the true meaning of courage, sacrifice and devotion for Muhammad (pbuh) and heirs, who are only men who deserve a free man’s absolute loyalty. A nation is taking shape whose will is iron, a nation which refuses to bow down despite all the world’s empires trying to bring it down.

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  • Farooq
    Nov 26, 2012 - 7:44PM

    Farooq sahib protesting against Israel gives more media coverage . Media doesn’t even tells that they people who died were Shia . We just figure out on the number of causalities

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  • Uza Syed
    Nov 26, 2012 - 7:58PM

    @Sultan: Damn right! Imran Khan must face the music that he has been orchestrating all this time, hasn’t he been publically supporting the terrorists and terrrorism, be they known as Taliban or LeT or whatever other guises, hasn’t he called terrrorism a “Jihad’?

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  • bangash
    Nov 26, 2012 - 11:42PM

    very well said Mr. Saroof ijaz,…this is what KARBALA teaches us,,,,,to talk against the opressors and supressors in one’s own domain and to play his part against yazeediat…

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  • Raja Islam
    Nov 28, 2012 - 3:12AM

    I understand the similarity between Karbala and Gaza, but not between Karbala and Pakistan. The battle at Karbala was a political one and not a religious one. The issue was that of the caliphate. In the case of Pakistan, the right wing fundamentalists are killing the non-believers or the apostates.

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  • Yousaf Kazmi
    Nov 28, 2012 - 1:07PM

    I commend the efforts of the author for bringing attention to a problem that is eating Pakistan alive. However, I will come off a bit petty for what I am about to say but please, don’t compare the situation of Pakistan to Karbala infact don’t bring Karbala down to compare it with situations of today. Gaza can never be Karbala and neither can the sectarian killings of Pakistan. Karbala is the only Karbala there can never be another. The recent fad of calling every other mass murder of a people in Pakistan “our very own Karbala” should be condemned for it lessens the importance of the actual event.

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  • Ali Zaid
    Jan 8, 2013 - 10:51AM

    Bravo!

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