Pakistan should protect Shia community: Human Rights Watch

Published: October 5, 2011
Pakistani Shia Muslim mourns the killing of their community members in a hospital in Quetta on October 4, 2011. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

Pakistani Shia Muslim mourns the killing of their community members in a hospital in Quetta on October 4, 2011. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

NEW YORK: In the wake of recent incidents of sectarian violence in Balochistan, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the government to provide protection to the Shia community and hold accountable those responsible for targeted killings. 

The statement came in response to a recent attack in which unidentified gunmen riding on motorbikes stopped a bus carrying 20 passengers who were headed to work at a vegetable market and opened fire on them, killing 13 Shia Muslims and wounding six others.

A similar incident took place in Mastung on September 19 when gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Shias to Iran for their holy pilgrimage and killed 26 of them. The banned militant organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the September attack.

“The targeted killings of Shia are a barbaric attempt at sectarian and ethnic cleansing,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s failure to break up the extremist groups that carry out these attacks calls into question its commitment to protect all of its citizens.”

Sunni militant groups such as the supposedly banned Lashkar-e Jhangvi operate with impunity even in areas where state authority is well established, such as Punjab and Karachi, said release by the organisation.

It further states that the military, law enforcement agencies and the Frontier Corps (FC) are responsible for the security of the people and they should safeguard the lives of the people belonging to a community under attack by the extremists.

HRW advised the federal and provincial government of Balochistan to direct the military and the FC to ‘actively protect those facing attack from extremist groups.’

“National and provincial authorities should make all possible efforts to quickly apprehend and appropriately prosecute those responsible for the September 19 and October 4 attacks and other crimes targeting the Shia population,” the report said.

“President Zardari needs to understand that the will of the government to protect ordinary people is measured by action,” Adams said. ”As far as protecting the Shia is concerned, Pakistan’s government has been all talk and no action.”

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Star
    Oct 5, 2011 - 7:23PM

    The Police is too scared and rightly so as they do not have the resources, man power or federal Govt. Backing to do anything. Pathetic “STATE” of “Affairs”Recommend

  • Lal Bahadur
    Oct 5, 2011 - 7:40PM

    The Govt of Pakistan’s silence on the subject show that it is impotent and incapable of providing basic protection to it’s population. By not taking hard action against the jhangvi’s and the murders, The Govt. is as guilty, maybe these so called leaders are scared to tackle the jhangvi group and the terrorist. Perhaps they should cut down on their own security to help protect the common people. Sending the drones after these terrorist is really not a bad idea


  • Abbas from the US
    Oct 5, 2011 - 8:55PM

    It is most shameful when minorities are left unprotected in order to appease a proxy viewpoint.


  • Ali Raza
    Oct 5, 2011 - 9:10PM

    I am shia , and I say to all american based NGOS we dont want your help or sympathy. We are people of pakistan, we dont want your meddling. Mnas from all over pakistan put pressure on PPP yesterday, even from with in PPP. This is how pakistan works

    I am confident that Mnas of Pakistan will continue to put pressure on PPP and force them enact the necessary Prison and police intelligence reform to put an end to this menace. I also urge PMLN to end it alliance with LEJ, a group which kills shias,incites hatred and even targeted Mariot Hotel,Sri Lanka cricket team.

    It is also known the Reymound Davis on his mobile had numbers of LEJ activist…why ?


  • Abdullah
    Oct 5, 2011 - 9:35PM

    The secular capitalist state of Pakistan has failed to protect the life, honour and properties of citizens Muslims, non-muslims, man-woman alike!


  • shafiq chughtai
    Oct 5, 2011 - 10:42PM

    @Ali Raza:
    i am proud of u and i am a sunni and i am deeply saddened by my shia brothers death these pathetic killers should be brought to justice


  • Doctor
    Oct 6, 2011 - 12:50AM

    @ Ali Raza – you are in a state of denial about how Pakistan works. It is not foreign influence or meddling that’s leading to Shias being killed. It’s Pakistan’s intolerance towards the Shia community and the institutionalized hatred that pervades the nation.

    @ Abdullah – Pakistan is hardly secular. Please stop joking.


  • Mohammad Ali
    Oct 6, 2011 - 12:55AM

    @Ali Raza, don’t be an idiot. HRW and US NGOs have a lot of clout here and can put pressure in the right places to protect Shias. Your ill-placed pride helps no one, especially our own Shia who are being killed. Think of your own family and loved ones, if you don’t care about mine.


  • Cycloneous
    Oct 6, 2011 - 2:18AM

    You can tell how advanced a society is by how it treats its religious, cultural minorities along with its women.
    Here’s how it is going to happen when the individuals meet their maker on the day of Judgement:
    On who’s authority were you given the right to kill innocent human beings, my creation? Secondly, why did you kill one of your brothers and sisters in humanity? What did they ever do to you that caused you to act in my name? Why did you act in my name without my permission?

  • Cycloneous
    Oct 6, 2011 - 2:24AM

    @Ali Raza

    Believe me when I say this, as an American, we do not want to be in your country, I know I don’t!

    Unfortunately, the problem is NOT NGOs, the problem is culture and religion in your country of Pakistan; otherwise, there would be no need for NGOs to be there in the first place! The foundation of Pakistan was supposed to be secular, but we all know how that turned out, and you have no one else to blame but the Pakistani government.

    So yes, be proud you are sunni, shia, a rabbits foot, whatever, but Pakistan has problems, and unless something is done about protecting religious minorities, and also women, Pakistan will continue to dig itself into a deeper quagmire.

    I like Pakistani people, some of my good friends are Pakistani, and they know that the problems exist because of failure to understand the rule of law versus the rule of the jungle.


  • Tariq J Qureshi (TQ)
    Oct 6, 2011 - 3:50AM

    Pakistani politicians of all vintage and religious sects have no love for either brands of muslims killed, all they care about is their SEAT and how to retain power. That’s it. They will get more people killed as they are their best fodder…..
    We may blame agencies, or who ever, but where have we seen ANY action of government to protect its citizens. We blame British of ‘divide and rule’, we the illiterate idiots are prone to divide and rule even within our own sects. Look at how many mixes of ethnic-religious parties are there. 34 to be precise, 28 of them are nothing but power brokers…..with no one 1-2 seats. Who elects them?


  • Ali Raza
    Oct 6, 2011 - 4:27AM

    Pakistan is not intolerant to Shias
    some people are intolerant to shias and more generally other groups intolerant to the everyone in pakistan.
    I am aware of LEJ blackmarket fundraising and inciting hatred which is why I called on Parliament to tackle this .Even in india you have Balthackeray

    This is not a conspiracy theory but well documented foreign hand . there is no institutionalized hatred just institutionalized incompetence . The govt of pakistan hates no one . All countries hate anyone who seeks to impose regional hegemony

    My main point was Human Rights Watch doesnt care about anyone but its own vested interest


  • Mohammad Ali
    Oct 6, 2011 - 12:34PM

    How it is possible that the terrorist came and kill the innocent pople between the two check post of Police and FCRecommend

  • A J Khan
    Oct 6, 2011 - 12:54PM

    This photo of grief stricken Pakistani show case the life of people of Pakistan at the hands of foreign funded terrorists, be it be Baloch Militants, Sectarian serial killers or the Talibans.


  • A J Khan
    Oct 6, 2011 - 1:00PM

    Inaction on part of extremely corrupt, unsuccessful and ineffective Provincial Government (politicians and bureaucracy both) is likely to lead to civil war in the province. The reaction of victims will definitely come, may be after their preparation is complete. Foreign agencies are also likely to aid and equip both the sides for showdown. The outcome will be blood shed and instability of the country.
    To save he country, prompt and effective action is needed. Half hearted attempts will lead to no where.Recommend

  • Khan
    Oct 6, 2011 - 2:19PM

    @Doctor: Dear Doctor, I come from a very religious deobandi family and believe that there is a gulf of ideological difference between Shias and Sunies but it does not stop me from having very good Shia friends. This is also true for hundreds of thousands of other Pakistanis. Just pause and think, why is there a spat of attacks on Sunni and Shia Mosques in mainland Pakistan and then it stops on its “own”. I am pointing towards a number of internal and external forces who use sectarianism for their own advantage. I believe that just like any other country in the world, 95 percent of the Pakistanis are non-violent and get along well with each other.


  • Adeel Ahmed
    Oct 6, 2011 - 3:57PM

    Shias, Sunnis, Ahmadis, we ALL are getting killed by extremists. Its not a shia-specific phenomenon… don’t twist incidents into spreading more confusion and hatred amongst sects…
    we are all ONE nation which need to fight terrorism and extremism… Sunnis and Shias and Ahmadis and Christians and Hindus and Sikhs… ALL need to be protected from extremism and terrorism.

    Mosques are no safer than Imam Bargahs that are no safer than Ahmadi places of worship which are no safer than Churches which are no safer than Temples which are no safer than Gurdwaras…

    Stop giving the false perception that only shias and other minorities are under threat… everyone is… hell… when a bomb explodes in centre of town… all sects and religions are present there and die an equally painful and tragic death. No one specific group of people is under threat and we ALL need protection.


  • Farhan
    Oct 7, 2011 - 12:34PM

    What is more heartbreaking is the attitude of general masses who say ‘this violent act cannot be done by muslim’ because muslim can not kill someone. What a joke of century!

    We need to work hard and assert our influence to tell people in power: that enough is enough. Stop killings in name of religion or else ready to be killed in near future. If we do not condemn what is wrong, ultimately we will be killed some day by some terrorist.


  • Oct 7, 2011 - 8:46PM

    my name is arif hussain and i am shia+hazara.i feel proud2say dt v hazara are one of da civilized peaceful sensible literate n prgressive nation.but unfortunately v r being victomized n killed brutally…v really dnt v any more 2 tolerate further incident as v really r tired f burryng our brothers n fathers dead bodies..i request HRW 2 plllzzz tak action in any way and help us out … plllllllzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz v wl b waitng 4 ur ………………………………


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