Anti-Shia rally in Pak sparks sectarian security debate

By Ameer Hamza

Sep 12, 2020

Karachi:  Serious questions are being raised over Pakistan’s intentions regarding check against proscribed terror outfits operating in the country, after thousands of people rallied in Karachi, chanting anti-Shia slogans and calling them disbelievers.

The rally, led by Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a terrorist organization, which has been involved in the killing of Shia minorities in Pakistan, staged a gathering of thousands, who marched on the main M.A Jinnah road in broad daylight.

Chanting slogans like “Shia are Kafirs (disbelievers)”, the rally members held banners of the SSP outfit, raising serious concerns over re-emergence of sectarian violence in the country.

While seeing a proscribed organization stage a huge rally in Pakistan’s economic hub Karachi shocked the public. the open chanting of anti-Shia slogans without any fear of action by authorities, raised serious questions over the Imran Khan-led government’s will and intent in rooting out terror outfits from its soil.

The protest rally was staged after a Shia leader allegedly gave disrespectful remarks against Islam in a television show during Ashura processions.

“When an anti-Shia rally can be openly taken out in Karachi, then it shows that sectarian violence will continue. This rally was taken out by a terror outfit, which is listed in Pakistan’s official list of proscribed organizations.

“Yet, they were able to rally. This is worrying,” said Gul Zehra Rizvi, a Shia rights activist.

“Since the start of Muharram, we have been seeing numerous Shia believers targeted for reciting religious scriptures and partaking in Ashura commemorations.

“This demonstration should not be taken lightly when our brothers and sistes are bring kidnapped and killed for their beliefs,” said Arfeen, another shia rights activist.

Shia leaders have called for strict accountability of the Prime Minister for what they call supporting hate speech against Shia Muslims.

“Some years ago, Shias in Pakistan were receiving anonymous text messages that said ‘kill the Shia’. Terrorists hurled grenades where Ashura processions were taking place. The Shia in Kashmir and Kabul are also under siege and yet some still believe #ShiaGenocide is a myth,” Arfeen said.

“It should be made clear that the Pakistan government has allowed known terrorists to spread their anti-Shia rhetoric far and wide. Imran Khan should be held accountable.”

“I am a Shia living in Karachi. Yesterday, my city echoed with the chants of Kafir Kafir Shia Kafir. Few hours later, the state arrested a journalist Bilal Farooqi, who is one of the rare journalists covering sectarian violence/organisations. If this is not step by step towards Shia genocide then what it is?” a Twitter user queried.IANS