Amir HusainThere is most definitely a programme of ethnic and religious cleansing underway in Pakistan, where Shias are being identified and murdered in large numbers All political and social issues ultimately find settlement not on paper, via signed agreements or in international fora housed in fancy buildings, but in the minds and hearts of people. Lasting solutions and sustainable arrangements usually come about only when the people involved have decided to adopt a mutually tolerant line of thinking. This is why long running conflicts can be so hard to address, as they involve inspiring change at the most basic human level: a change of hearts and minds. In Pakistan, we have seen how irreconcilable the situation can become when hearts and minds are turned away from the mainstream due to sustained policies of callous indifference and unfairness. Sub-populations at the receiving end are given to believe over time that they are ‘the other’, the ones who are different and perhaps even the enemy. They become divested from the status quo, their thought turns and their actions then unfold within the context of a negative, hopeless worldview. A round of action and counter-action only reinforces the roles of both the oppressor and the oppressed in the eyes of the world. This is what happened in the pre-1971 Pakistan. A chain of events led to the slaughter of large numbers of east and west Pakistanis and to the eventual formation of Bangladesh. The situation today, we are told, is quite different. We are told that things are more in control, that insurgencies and genocides may be happening but they do not involve large numbers. We are led to believe that because the areas where these things occur are contiguous to the rest of the country, they can be managed more effectively, unlike East Pakistan. That may be, but there is most definitely a programme of ethnic and religious cleansing underway in Pakistan, where Shias are being identified and murdered in large numbers. This one-sided slaughter has been going on since the time of the Wahabi-inspired General Ziaul Haq, who, to please his Takfiri Middle Eastern backers, allowed foreign terrorists and their madrassah ‘factories’ to be imported en masse into the country. This ethnic cleansing has reached fever pitch now. The Hazara community is being wiped out and they have nowhere to turn. As we speak, they are seeking protection from the army chief himself, who has failed to respond to the demands of the community even though the coffins of dead Shias lay across the cold streets of Quetta for three days running. Many apologists would ask, but what can the army do? Why does the Balochistan government not do something? What a pathetic and sorry question that would be. Balochistan’s security has been managed by the army for a long time. The paramilitary and Frontier Corps, which are large forces, come under the de facto command of the military and are handled by deputed Pakistan army officers. The entire intelligence network in the province is controlled by the military. There is no police presence in Balochistan to speak of that can take on and cleanse Middle East-funded Takfiri terror organisations, or segments of the rabidly anti-Shia Punjabi Taliban, which once (or possibly even now?) enjoyed the backing of segments of the intelligence community. If the army can ensure the security of housing colonies owned by generals, can it also not be expected to protect a community that is being wiped out in a province it all but controls? The murders and killings of Hazaras are not the only act of violence against Shias. Prominent Shia leaders are identified all over the country and murdered while the Parachinar area has seen terrible conflict involving the Toori tribe. Shia areas in the north were cut off from Pakistan for more than a year, and it was only possible for Shia Pakistanis to access their own country by first entering Afghanistan to go around the blockade imposed against them by terrorists. This happened right under the nose of their own armed forces. So today if the Shia of Pakistan ask is this our army, are these our generals, would they be unjustified? They are essentially placing their hope in General Kayani and asking him to provide an indication that this hope is not misplaced. Can Shias think of Pakistan as home? Will the only institution that can guarantee the security of Pakistan do anything to make them feel safe within the borders of the country? The Shia coffins lying in the streets of Quetta patiently await the GHQ’s answer. This is a far more pressing question to address than the one tiny Indian bunker that has appeared on the LoC. That is a triviality in comparison. Perhaps the great generals of Rawalpindi will deem it worth their while to give an answer before hearts and minds are turned unalterably, once more.