Healing scars: In G-B, Muharram blurs sectarian differences

Published: November 24, 2012
The mourning procession passes through the heart of Gilgit. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The mourning procession passes through the heart of Gilgit. PHOTO: EXPRESS


The religious harmony apparent at a Muharram procession in Gilgit on Friday suggests the scars left by bloody sectarian strife do not have to haunt the region and its people forever.

Dozens of Sunnis led a mourning procession in the heart of the city, where until recently Shias and Sunnis were victims of violent incidents stage-managed by extremist elements. The move is also a blow to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which had threatened to attack Muharram processions in Gilgit-Baltistan. G-B’s administration was informed of these threats in a letter by the interior ministry last week.

A Sunni delegation comprising elders and the youth from Kashrote and Yadgar areas convened at the Imambargah in Majini Muhalla, where they joined hundreds of mourners.

“We are here to show support and solidarity for peace and sectarian harmony,” said Mutawali Khan, a senior member of the Masjid Board, a representative body of Shias and Sunnis formed to address a spate of violence which ultimately led to the imposition of curfew in the area in April.

“It is a message to the rest of our countrymen to live and let others live peacefully,” said Khan, who has seen at least five houses burnt to ashes in sectarian clashes near his own residence.

The gesture was not lost on the Shia community. Walking in tandem, people from both sects made it clear the division along sectarian lines was not etched in stone – or rather, did not have to be.

This will also ease the otherwise tense atmosphere of the city. Incidents of violence around the city and on the adjoining Karakoram Highway this year have claimed the lives of nearly 70 people, and left several others injured or emotionally scarred.

According to the G-B chapter of International Human Rights Observer (IHRO), more than 80% of the people in Gilgit suffer from stress triggered by the unfortunate law and order situation, the watchdog’s regional coordinator Mohammad Farooq said in a statement issued earlier.

Chief Minister Mehdi Shah said the occurrence was rare, but not a first. “It’s a rare occasion as it happened after three decades. Congratulations to all those who made it possible,” Shah said at a ceremony where he also distributed compensation cheques among relatives of those killed in recent attacks in Gilgit, Lalusar and Kohistan.

“We are not made to fight each other,” said Shah, implying that anti-state elements, and not the region’s people, were the cause of this unrest.

He reminisced about the time when Sunnis used to serve water to mourners during Muharram.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Syed
    Nov 24, 2012 - 3:52AM

    Shabah mere sunni bhaiyo. Imam Hussain a.s. sirf shiyo k nahi thay poori humanity k hain. whatever differences we have, we can talk about them peacefully and live together and slap the terrorists


  • FJ
    Nov 24, 2012 - 3:54AM



  • Nov 24, 2012 - 3:58AM

    There’s some hope yet.


  • Supersequel
    Nov 24, 2012 - 4:15AM

    More news of this sort should be highlighted frequently. My family is a mixture of Sunni and Shia and I am ethnically Pathan/farsi and Urdu speaking and from both Karachi and Quetta. In essence I am Pakistan and proud of my multicultural roots.


  • Pungi
    Nov 24, 2012 - 4:21AM

    Way to Go Pakistanis..!


  • FJ
    Nov 24, 2012 - 4:24AM

    I am pleasantly surprised and so relived to read this news. May the peace prevail in this beautiful country:)


  • Falcon
    Nov 24, 2012 - 4:28AM

    Feel so good to hear this…certainly shows we are not giving up anytime soon!


  • Tahir
    Nov 24, 2012 - 5:16AM

    This is a good practice and an example which need to be followed in the rest of the country. Salute to those great and tolerant people of GB.Recommend

  • Hairaan
    Nov 24, 2012 - 7:33AM

    Hope the Shia brothers would reciprocate the same by paying respects to the first three caliphs.


  • QB
    Nov 24, 2012 - 7:38AM



  • surelySure!!
    Nov 24, 2012 - 8:09AM

    hats off to the organisers!! Long live!
    That indeed was Qaid e Azam’s thoughts to have all ‘Pakistani’ living and let other live.Recommend

  • Ali
    Nov 24, 2012 - 8:34AM

    This is a good sign. I hope things get better for all of us. We won’t give up in the face of tyranny. Shias and Sunnis have live together in harmony for decades.


  • Animal Farm - Desi
    Nov 24, 2012 - 10:22AM

    WoW! A rend to be followed by all.


  • nomi
    Nov 24, 2012 - 1:35PM

    Healing scars: In G-B, Muharram blurs sectarian differences

    guarded by 5000 policemen.

    Ironically, you would feel more secure in an ‘infidel’ country.


  • Nov 24, 2012 - 3:06PM

    Great signs ! Need this in whole country, a country that was before Zia’s era


  • mushtaq ali
    Nov 24, 2012 - 3:16PM

    It is the best way to show harmony.it is a way to lessen the extrimists conspiracies to distroy pakistan’s solidarity


  • Junaid
    Nov 24, 2012 - 3:25PM

    Great example set by our Northern brothers.


  • Rahim
    Nov 24, 2012 - 3:25PM

    Very good, I am proud of my fellow countrymen, G-B is a peaceful place and this kind of gesture will bond us together. People have differences and will always have but it must not resort to violence.


  • Aviator
    Nov 24, 2012 - 4:35PM

    I’m very impressed by this peaceful gesture by the people of G-B

    The TTP should lay down their arms, and follow the example set by the peaceful people of G-B!


  • Zaheer
    Nov 24, 2012 - 5:44PM

    I have been to GB, and i can tell you guys sectarianism was, and still an artificially injected menace to GB.

    Still some state elements are funding hardliners, supplying weapons to them to kill innocent people.

    I wish more people could reach to this truth, so that we can live peacefully as we have lived in South Asia for centuries.


  • Nov 24, 2012 - 5:55PM

    where are the vultures???? i mean the so-called electronic media giants


  • Nov 24, 2012 - 9:36PM

    Today I felt so much Proud of you all, Specially our Masjid Board in Gilgit.


  • Hunzai
    Nov 24, 2012 - 10:54PM

    Proud to be GBian …this is what islam teach .. love, peace n brotherhood … freedom …Islam the religion of diversity …


  • abid
    Nov 24, 2012 - 11:58PM

    Mutawali khan must be given Nishan e imthiyaz and a salute to the great people of gilgit & baltistan.


  • Aamir
    Nov 25, 2012 - 3:56AM

    To the sunni brothers, I can only say, GREAT!


  • Smj
    Nov 25, 2012 - 7:46AM

    SubhanAllah. This is indeed a slap on the terrorists face who wants violence and fighting between Shia and Sunnis. The news made my day!


  • Nauman Durrani
    Nov 25, 2012 - 10:01AM

    Great effort , must be appreciated by all, Mutawali Khan & Shia organizers must also be appreciated , they have done Good to the Country.
    Slap on the face of those POWERS, who get the innocents Killed,Just for money


  • Sher Ghazi
    Nov 26, 2012 - 10:49AM

    God Bless those who took peace initiatives in this regards.Recommend

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