Shia killing: If we tolerate this, our children will be next

Dr Mohsin Jaffer was as Muslim as anyone else thinks they are - why did someone shoot him for his religious beliefs?

Absar Ul Hasan February 01, 2012
Last week, I heard the news of the targeted sectarian killing of Jaffer Mohsin. The name didn’t ring a bell at the time, but later that day, when a friend told me that a fellow schoolmate’s father had been shot dead, it jogged my memory. I then realised that doctor Jaffer Mohsin was our friend’s father. That’s when the memories came flooding back.

Back when I used to live near my school building, Dr Mohsin’s family lived in the lane next to mine. Like regular Pakistani youths who bond over a common love for cricket, his sons and I played the sport we loved in our neighbourhood. They were good cricketers, and the younger son was jovially termed “mirchi” because of his short height and amazing leg break bowling.

Although I didn’t interact much with Dr Mohsin, two incidents are still as fresh in my memory as if they happened yesterday

One day, when we were en route to school, we saw him pushing his car on the road by himself. As kids, we loved to go to school on foot, so when we saw him struggling with the car, we stopped and pushed it with all our might. In the third attempt, the car started and despite the fact that he was in a hurry, he dropped us home.

Another time, when I went out to the neighbourhood shop at the end of our lane to buy bread, I ran into Dr Mohsin. I remember that he was laughing uncontrollably. Then I heard him crack a joke about a comment made about Shias being "bed bugs" and Sunnis being "mosquitoes":
"Aray Khurshid bhai, machhar ho ya khatmal, donon he khoon choostay hain!"

"Oh Khurshid bhai, bed bugs and mosquitoes are the same - they both suck blood!"

Dr Mohsin's take on the matter reflected his cool-mindedness - he was not one to react aggressively at the mention of anything that is even remotely sectarian.

These memories may be vague, but from the little I knew of him, he was a composed and moderate man.

It’s been almost 13 years since I left that neighbourhood, but Dr Mohsin stayed there – and was shot right in front of his house while reading a newspaper.

Who can justify the killing of any human being?

It does not matter that I do not belong to the Shia sect; it does not matter that I may not agree with many of the ideologies that Dr Mohsin had; it does not matter that he is not my relative or even my neighbour anymore.

What matters is that he was a Pakistani, a Muslim – as Muslim as we all think we are.

Despite the sectarian debate that this might attract, I felt the need to write about Dr Mohsin because of the association that supersedes any difference of sect - it does not matter what sect he belonged to, what matters is that he was a human being.

I am dejected. I am helpless. I am ashamed that I cannot do anything to stop this.
Absar Ul Hasan An engineering graduate who works in the telecommunication industry. He tweets @intrepidparadox and blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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