Justifying the killing of Christians

Published: September 25, 2013
The writer is an independent social scientist and author of Military Inc.

The writer is an independent social scientist and author of Military Inc.

Someone called me, recently, insisting that now there will be action in North Waziristan against the Taliban. His point was that the killing of over 80 Christians, in Peshawar, would shake us into action. I quickly reminded him of what a rather intelligent nephew of mine told me recently about not taking such outpour of sympathy too seriously because it doesn’t eventually amount to anything. We sympathised with the Hazaras but didn’t ensure any concrete outcomes for their protection. We cry for the Baloch in conference rooms and think that the job is done. The young man mentioned above reminded me that we are the kind of people who will cry over dead Hazaras, Balochs, Christians, Ahmadis and others, not for the sake of humanity but out of fear that we might be next. Sadly, even this episode of brutality will not go beyond producing some “Coke Studio” version of Faiz or Jalib. The debate is likely to degenerate into a nonsensical debate labelled as a liberal versus conservative verbal contest.

The jihadi mafia is made up of such lucky folks because they understand that a divided population, which does not even have clarity on who to hold responsible for these attacks, will not have the will to retaliate. There are many, like Imran Khan, who think that the Taliban are not responsible for the attack in Peshawar. Indeed, the Hakimullah Mehsud group very intelligently distanced itself from the attack. So, now we will hold everyone responsible; from CIA, Raw and Mossad to Charlie’s aunt and not look inside.

Why forget that we ourselves are responsible for the attack on these poor Christians? The bias against this community is inbuilt into our psyche. There are many a people who wouldn’t share the same plate or glass with Christians. The whole drama of Aasia Bibi originates from her attempt to drink water from the same well as Muslims. The majority of Pakistan’s Christians belong to the lowest socio-economic class and they continue to remain there and treated the same way as they were before their forefathers converted to Christianity to escape maltreatment. Recently, one of Punjab chief minister’s favourite police officers taunted the Christian community and told them that the photographs of what they had done should be sent to “all their embassies”. This was after a fight between the police and some Christian boys, in which both parties had beaten each other. The police were then sent in full force to pick the culprits up at the slums and they would break open doors of their houses.

How can we forget that this is not the first attack against Christians and their churches? There were two attacks in 2001, as well — one in Bahawalpur and another in the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad. For those arguing that those attacks were in reaction to the American attack on Afghanistan after 9/11, why target the poor Christians of Pakistan who have nothing to do with the US? It was the poor Christians in the Bahawalpur Church, who could not even dream of going to the West, who were killed in an attack carried out by the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), which is also stationed in the same city.

For those, who will argue that nothing has ever happened against Christians since 2001 until now and so this must be a provocation from the outside, how can they not see the deep ideological messaging and propaganda ridden with bias against these people? Be it the takfiris, who even advocate killing Muslims that don’t support the cause, or the others who believe in killing more strategically, they share a common ideology. Glance through the magnum opus of the JeM leader explaining jihad, Fathul Jawwad and you will see how a ‘jihadi’ or Taliban will be inspired to kill a Christian. The entire interpretation puts the Jews and Christians on the same level as the hypocrites and the non-believers. The 2000-page book carefully builds a thesis which extols the importance of jihad and martyrdom. But this is one aspect. The other is constructing a thesis against non-believers, Jews and Christians. It very carefully explains and interprets that religious reference to Jews includes Christians as well. On several occasions in the book it is also pointed out that de-populating a mosque is one of the greatest sins and that must be rewarded with death.

The book constructs a formidable thesis against the people of the other two Semitic religions who were traditionally always considered as part of the same family. Reportedly, Masood Azhar’s work reflects a similar thesis by a Salafi scholar in a Saudi university in Riyadh.

Azhar’s Fathul Jawwad is one of the fundamental readings for those being converted to the idea of jihad. There may be different Deobandi groups; even the Taliban are Deobandi, but they share the literature especially since there are more fighters but less ideologues who can create the ideology considered necessary to rally support from around them. Even if we were to imagine that the murder of over 80 innocent Christians, including women and children, may be the work of some foreign agency, how can we rule out the critical role that this kind of literature would have played in convincing the person who actually blew him/herself up? Perhaps, the killer might also have interpreted religion to say that it is fair and legal to kill women who take part in the fight including instigating against Muslim. Children are just collateral damage. Surely, the killers and many more see these women and children only from that lens. And still we call these jihadis the friendly Taliban.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th,  2013.

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Reader Comments (45)

  • Water Bottle
    Sep 25, 2013 - 11:26PM

    Think about it.

    The root of every problem in Pakistan is Kashmir.

    Forget Kashmir and you will live peacefully.


  • Anon
    Sep 25, 2013 - 11:35PM

    They’re not happy in Gaza ..
    They’re not happy in Egypt ..
    They’re not happy in Libya ..
    They’re not happy in Morocco ..
    They’re not happy in Iran ..
    They’re not happy in Iraq ..
    They’re not happy in Yemen ..
    They’re not happy in Afghanistan ..
    They’re not happy in Pakistan ..
    They’re not happy in Syria ..
    They’re not happy in Lebanon ..

    They’re happy in Australia .
    They’re happy in Canada .
    They’re happy in England ..
    They’re happy in France ..
    They’re happy in Italy ..
    They’re happy in Germany ..
    They’re happy in Sweden ..
    They’re happy in the USA ..
    They’re happy in Norway ..
    They’re happy in Holland .
    They’re happy in Denmark .

    Basically, they’re happy in every country that is not Muslim and unhappy in every country that is!
    Not Islam.
    Not their leadership.
    Not themselves.

    AND THEN; They want to change those countries to be like…. THE COUNTRY THEY CAME FROM WHERE THEY WERE UNHAPPY!


  • 3rdRockFromTheSun
    Sep 25, 2013 - 11:58PM

    @Anon : Respect!!!
    Couldn’t have said it any better!


  • Anonymous
    Sep 26, 2013 - 12:01AM

    Very cliched article. Some thoughts to consider:

    1) Yes we are apathetic as a nation (as you claim) and
    2) Yes we are confused as a nation. However
    3) If you wish to make a difference please write in Urdu where members of the Lashkar or Jaish could read your thoughts on the matter and hopefully be moved towards tolerance
    4) You ask a lot of questions but offer no solutions making this a ramble. For example:
    5) If Jihad as a concept is being twisted into something it is not should not the focus be on education?
    6) perhaps the bomber was economically motivated as his family would be well provided for by this act of his. Hence economic progression may be the answer.
    7) Your Anti Taliban stance dismisses other possible instigators.
    8) You paint probably hard working policemen in a poor light even though civilian boys (possibly miscreants) beat them up and vice versa. In any other country in the world such as say the USA, if policemen get beaten up by any community (whether Irish or Italian or Hispanic) the police do get upset about it and there is retaliation. But you like to cast it as a unique and negative phenomenon of Pakistn or even Punjab and even take a swipe at the CM. Political Agenda of some sort maybe?Recommend

  • Noor Nabi
    Sep 26, 2013 - 12:27AM

    These jihadi mafias continue to operate because of the silent protection of their benefactors within the country. And everyone knows who the Godfathers are.


  • Asok
    Sep 26, 2013 - 12:29AM

    In other words, what Christians are suffering from in Pakistan is untouchability and caste based oppression.


  • Arifq
    Sep 26, 2013 - 12:42AM

    Well said Ayesha, this is all about ideologies with 50 shades of grey!


  • Vakil
    Sep 26, 2013 - 12:48AM

    @Anon: You are partly correct — but…. those Muslims that “blame” (or are “unhappy”) are those who are REFUSED (i.e. REJECTED) by countries that are “non-Muslim” — to be taken as their citizens! So can anyone blame them for being “unhappy”? Now the whole world (esp the so-called “liberal-democratized-free-world”) should understand that all this hullabaloo of the so-called “War on Terror” is probably not a so-called ‘clash-of-civilizations’ … but just a matter of clearing the huge back-log of Green-card applications, and other equivalents of countries that this kind person has listed above…!!! Bear in mind though… that the outcome of those applications will determine the level of hatred, and the consequent further acts of terror around the world…. ain’t that right???


  • Sep 26, 2013 - 12:52AM

    what a brave woman you are. Long Live Peace


  • Hedgefunder
    Sep 26, 2013 - 1:05AM

    Keep it up !
    You forgot to mention, that they all want to live in these countries and demand their rights too !
    However they don’t want to integrate or pay taxes or learn the languages ! !!!
    But love the benefits and whatever is free ! That is Halal, for them !


  • Usman Waraich
    Sep 26, 2013 - 1:07AM

    1) Education is the key. Get the syllabi revamped and purged from the notions of supremacy and make it more inclusive. Use the help of educationists here and abroad.

    2) Start telling the truth and stop distorting history. If we made mistakes acknowledge and learn. Have a discourse for god’s sake.

    3) Eliminate or weaken evil nexus between politicians and mullahs. They serve each other interests at the expense of the country as both are power hungry. Politicians are corrupt, cowardly and self preserving,,, Mullah to some extent is an ideologue which in most cases is grossly misplaced and therefore needs to be argued with in a manner in which Mullah does not have room to resort to violence and if they call upon the forces of darkness then they should be dealt with an iron hand. Once the Mullah knows they cannot use the name of Islam or hurt feelings to spread anarchy, spew hate and create civil discord they would mend their ways (probably).

    This will happen only once you have honest and upright political statesmanship at the helm of affairs which does not feel the needs to have the Mullah on its back to help them survive.


  • Flybouy
    Sep 26, 2013 - 2:45AM


    You have articulated it better than anyone else could have. Succinct and clearly.

    Well done.


  • lalai
    Sep 26, 2013 - 2:45AM

    Killing is the only skill that terrorists have and justification for the killing is a minor job by using religion as a tool. Right now the victims are the Hazaras, Christians, Ahmedis, Brelvlis and later they could be the Sheikhdoms of Middle east even, if they stop sponsoring them.


  • Californian Desi
    Sep 26, 2013 - 4:05AM

    @Anon: Wonderful reply.
    @Author: Seriously wish there are more Muslims who share your wisdom.


  • someone
    Sep 26, 2013 - 4:52AM

    @Water Bottle:
    They will realize it next 65 years.


  • ahmed41
    Sep 26, 2013 - 6:29AM


    Thank you >>>> get this translated into URDU etc


  • antanu
    Sep 26, 2013 - 7:46AM

    why are you worried….?


  • Go Zardari Go!!
    Sep 26, 2013 - 8:41AM

    you forgot India


  • asim
    Sep 26, 2013 - 9:01AM

    Killing an innocent person is like killing the whole humanity.

    A government that has failed to protect the majority can not be expected to protect the minsorities


  • Water Bottle
    Sep 26, 2013 - 9:46AM



    I liked the last part especially.


  • Zeeshan
    Sep 26, 2013 - 9:54AM

    @Anon: They’re not happy in India as well …, but Indians are happy in Malaysia


  • sana
    Sep 26, 2013 - 10:00AM

    What a pathetic generalization
    and Why should Islam be blamed? Can you please clarify ….


  • vasan
    Sep 26, 2013 - 10:05AM

    Anon : Well and correctly said.
    Antanu : Get the message dont blame the courier.


  • Razi
    Sep 26, 2013 - 10:13AM

    One could not have expected anything else from an Indian who loves to hate Muslims. In fact that’s what most of you come here for: to show your hatred. And the recommendations you people get further proves that your silent majority here is extremely spiteful. Small wonder that you guys support the likes of NaMo.


  • vasan
    Sep 26, 2013 - 10:47AM

    Razi : “One could not have expected anything else from an Indian who loves to hate Muslims.”
    If you have assumed all Indians hate muslims, then that includes Muslims. Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists Jains, atheists and others of India as well in addition to Hindus in which case you should mention that hated muslims are pakistani muslims.
    . If you think India is only of Hindus, then your comments are pathetic. I suggest you ponder on the truth value of the message instead of , as usual, heaping blame on India and others.


  • Observer
    Sep 26, 2013 - 10:52AM


    “What a pathetic generalization and Why should Islam be blamed? Can you please clarify ….”


    “The book constructs a formidable thesis against the people of the other two Semitic religions who were traditionally always considered as part of the same family.”

    What the referenced book has “constructed” was not just pulled out of thin air. These Islamists have valid reasons to find support from the scriptures; @sana, they do derive inspiration from the scriptures. Please read: (8;39), (9:29), (9:5), (9:11), (2:193), (3:83) as examples.


  • wonderer
    Sep 26, 2013 - 12:01PM

    Not even this excellent piece of writing, which is the best I have come across in the last four days of desperate search, has given me even a hint of what is the way out of the mess we find our country to have landed us in. Is our situation so hopeless that we cannot do anything to save our country, which we all love? It seems so to me right now, but may be there is some hope if we can start moving towards what Hasan Nissar tells us in this video:



  • Syed Haider Hussain
    Sep 26, 2013 - 2:01PM

    I salute you Ayesha Siddiqa for writting such a thought provoking article.


  • Parvez
    Sep 26, 2013 - 3:47PM

    That was an excellent read and also brought to mind the saying that ‘ for evil to flourish all it takes is that the good do nothing ‘.


  • antanu
    Sep 26, 2013 - 4:35PM

    little learning is a dangerous thing bro.though i dont know about islsmic scripture but can not believe it encourages intoleramce.verses referred to by you must be interpreted in totality.in Gita krishna asks arjun to do not bother about relatives and keep fighting.does ot mean gita preaches violence….NO…it has to be seen in with full context.


  • Ingrid Moerman
    Sep 26, 2013 - 5:18PM

    Here in Denmark we are getting to many muslim immigrants.


  • javaid randhawa
    Sep 26, 2013 - 5:58PM

    I advice her to write another book military incorporated part 2 sitting in India sponsored by Indian army in five star hotel of some Indian city.Recommend

  • Rashid Khan
    Sep 26, 2013 - 6:22PM

    Aysha: What do you suggest should be done?
    Its easy to start a war because very few of us take the trouble to deliberate on the damage, misery and fallout of conflict.
    Pakistan cannot afford a continued and escalated conflict any more. The loss of lives and destruction experienced so far is minuscule and pales in comparison to what will happen if an all law enforcement operation against militants is launched.


  • David_Smith
    Sep 26, 2013 - 9:07PM

    I hate you! I wish I had said that. Absolutely brilliant.


  • MilesToGo
    Sep 26, 2013 - 11:10PM

    somebody needs to write the correct interpretation…


  • Mudassir Ali
    Sep 27, 2013 - 4:54AM

    Excellent article, Ayesha Siddiqa. You are a true “Siddiqa” because you speak the truth and side with justice. God bless you!!!


  • Observer
    Sep 27, 2013 - 5:47AM


    “i dont know about islsmic scripture but can not believe it encourages intoleramce.”

    If you don’t know or read the scriptures, how can you conclude one way or the other?


  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 27, 2013 - 7:42AM

    @Rashid Khan:
    By you reasoning, Pakistan cannot afford the loss of lives and destruction that a war with India would entail, so it must be time to disband the army!


  • kaalchakra
    Sep 28, 2013 - 3:28PM


    “If you don’t know or read the scriptures, how can you conclude one way or the other?”

    This is the most absurd question ever asked. Why must Antanu read or know anything before arriving at his conclusions about it?


  • Nadeem
    Sep 30, 2013 - 8:57PM

    @Water Bottle:
    Problem is even if we forget Kashmir, Kashmiries don’t forget Kashmir who are getting killed and raped there every day. Despite of all kind of bans and blocked enough clips are available on internet of indian brutalities in Kashmir.


  • Nadeem
    Sep 30, 2013 - 9:06PM

    Great work. You are spot on there Christians have nothing to do with American attack on Afganistan. Like wise Poor afghani people had nothing to do with 9/11 but still they got killed in thousands and considered as collateral damage. and people of fata had nothing to do with 9/11 either but its OK to kill them I guess. But this is no justification to kill Christians. These terrorists are “terrorists they have killed more then 50000 Pakistanis when so called bloggers write about Christians they portray that common people of Pakistan are killing these Christians.


  • genesis
    Oct 17, 2013 - 10:12PM

    Put less faith in religion and religious edicts.Believe more in being humane,logical and kind to others.No conflicts and a more happy world.Do not aloow religion to dominate your life.


  • ex-diplomat
    Oct 18, 2013 - 9:50AM

    In my town there is a Salafi who is more happy here than Pak


  • sattar rind
    Oct 18, 2013 - 3:13PM

    Out of mind nation


  • anmol
    Nov 14, 2013 - 10:52PM



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