Attacks on Shias in Afghanistan is a spill-over of the anti-Shia tirade in Pakistan. Noted American journalist Tim Craig voiced such a fear more than a year ago. In his dispatch from Islamabad to The Washington Post (Jan 15, 2014), he wrote: "A surge in sectarian killings is raising new fears about Pakistan's stability. But observers say any sectarian tension in Pakistan could easily spill over into Afghanistan, where security remains perilous and where religious and ethnic rivalries simmer, too."
Muhammad Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, sees the sectarian violence as a very dangerous trend. "It is starting to take the shape of structural violence," he told the Post.
The Shia genocide is
a nameless crime. "We are in the presence of a crime without a name, and
faceless victims," laments noted Pakistani columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi.
Kugelman, "The reason why the plight of Shias in Pakistan is so alarming is
that the Pakistani state has institutionalized sect-based discrimination." While
these experts are right in their assessment, not many analysts have as yet
focussed their attention on the possibility of Pakistan's anti-Shia crime
findings its way into Saudi Arabia. Entertaining
such a possibility will be no more than an act of blasphemy.
Over the years, Saudi
Arabia has acquired a larger-than-life profile in Pakistani discourse. Saudi Aria,
America and Allah have become the presiding trinity, though not necessarily in
The royal family has acquired the role of arbitrator in matters of Pakistani polity too.
Recent developments show that all is not hunky-dory between Islamabad and Riyadh. Saudi government has not earned any brownie points by executing Pakistanis who are into drug business. Arrests and trial are not limited to peddles. A Pakistani intellectual earned the wrath of Saudi authorities and had to cool his heels till Islamabad stepped in with a good word under public pressure. Topping this ground-swell of anti-Saudi mood is the Mina tragedy on September 24 and has created a fertile ground for anti-Shia blow back effect on the Kingdom. The Mina tragedy was the deadliest stampede in the history of Haj pilgrimage, and the death toll is put at anywhere beyond 1600.
The Saudi government is yet to yet to provide an updated death toll from the crush and stampede near Makkah. What is worse there is as yet no account of hundreds of pilgrims, many of them Pakistanis.
Both the media and
political parties in Pakistan have taken to task Riyadh for what they termed as
poor management and asked Nawaz Sharif government to convey Pakistanis' anger
to the Saudis. Some editorials even ticked off the royal family, which, though
unusual, showcases the public mood.
"The Saudi Grand Mufti has cleared the royal
family of all responsibility for the tragedy, saying that 'fate and destiny are
inevitable'. Considering that Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and
everything is overseen by the royal family, the cleric's remarks seem
premature. Moreover, the Saudi health minister's comments blaming pilgrims soon
after the tragedy were hasty and insensitive -- how could the official make such
a sweeping statement so soon after the disaster?" asked an editorial in the sedate
English daily, Dawn.
Like in the past, this time also, the government in Islamabad did not cross its Red Line since Saudi Arabia has been one of the main pillars of support for Pakistan -- politically, diplomatically and financially. It was the Saudi money that had bankrolled the American sponsored Jihad against the Soviets and gave birth to Taliban, Sunni vigilantism, and sectarianism; the religiosity of the then-dictator, Gen Zia-ul-Haq, pump primed them.
The official Pakistani agency that controls airwaves in the country has warned television channels not to criticise Saudi response to Mina tragedy. "Avoid targeted criticism of the royal family," it told the media houses.
The diktat was
received with disdain, and the Sharif government itself came on the firing
unlike most other affected Muslim-majority states, Pakistan's response to the
tragedy has been one of indifference. Such inaction coupled with a
head-in-the-sand approach to mismanagement of the pilgrimage is shocking. The
government must not only take a proactive approach, it must be seen to be doing
so. The scale of the recent tragedy demands a strong response," Dawn wrote on
Now, is it justified
to see the attacks on the Shia mosque in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere-
Bangladesh including - as an extension of the anti-Shia sentiment that Pakistan
Sunnis harbour? The answer appears as a resounding yes.