Monday, April 09, 2012

Shi'ites massacred in Pakistan
THOUSANDS in front of Pakistan parliament condemned government's failure to protect people. (Pamir Times)

WHAT appears to have been a major sectarian massacre in Pakistan-controlled territory seems to have escaped the attention of Western media, or perhaps the Pakistani authorities succeeded in keeping reporters away. But as efforts are made to rescue soldiers trapped by an avalanche in Kashmir, there are reports suggesting the same number of people may have been killed by an organised mob not that far away.

This is from an opposition blog which says it wants to build "a progressive, inclusive and democratic Pakistan":

"On 3 April-2012, at least 100 Shia Muslims were killed and over 250 abducted in Chilas area of Gilgit-Baltistan when a mob of 2000 Deobandi-Jihadi militants of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaast) stopped several buses on the Karakoram Highway near Chilas, pulled out the passengers, checked their identity documents and physical marks (Shia men usually have self flagellation marks on their back due to Muharram mourning rituals), segregated Shia Muslims killing at least 100 of them and abducting another 250".

The bloggers quote an eyewitness Ali Reza who spoke to Islam Times a

“There were dozens of buses in the convoy which was protected by police. However, I could sense right from the beginning that something was going to happen. Our convoy was delayed on the way for several hours in different spots. At Buner Farm in district Diamer, thousands of people stopped the buses near the police station. Dozens of people were on motorbikes and they all had weapons. Then suddenly thousands of stones were hurled at the buses. Women and children started screaming. They dragged the men out, checked their ID cards and shot them dead on the spot. Then the slogans of 'Shias are infidel' was raised in the air. When I got out, I grabbed a 4 year old child of another women and pretended to travelling without an ID card. They checked my back and found no marks of flagellation (a Shia mark). They let me go with the woman and her child. I saw a woman grabbing on to the hand of another male, who was shot in front of her. Many men were killed in front of us by stone pelting. Then a passenger from Skardo was dragged out. Tens of men attacked him with baton, stones and knives. He was screaming and calling Imam Hussain when one person raised a large stone of twenty five pounds and dropped on his face. I saw several dead bodies were dragged and thrown in the river Indus.

The terrorists were entering the police station and coming out with weapons. There was one person who was putting up a fight with empty hands. The terrorists dragged him towards the river and then I do not know what happened to him. Thousands of people were shouting, “Shias are non Muslims” thus legitimising butchering of innocent men and youth. Later we were taken to a house in Thalichi. There, the women informed that three men jumped in the river to save their lives. One was running towards the river when he was shot at from behind. At least 50 people lost lives as per my observation but the media is trying to hide the truth.”

Another source accuses the Pakistan authorities and military of being complicit in the attack.,201239966.aspx

The mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan region, formerly known as Northern Areas, is sandwiched between Kashmir, China and Pakistan's North West Frontier province, and was part of Kashmir till taken by Pakistan forces in 1947-8. Not wishing to be part of Pakistani-run Azad Kashmir for fear of Sunni domination, the largely Shi'ite population have not seen their region fully integrated into Pakistan as a province either, though it is in an important strategic and trade route position. Recently the Pakistan government was promising big investment and development.

Following the bus massacre the Pakistani authorities reportedly enforced curfews in the region and attempted to quell demonstrations, at the same time keeping foreign journalists away and instructing Pakistani news media to only refer to "sectarian clashes" rather than reporting a massacre. But as news spread, thousands turned out for the funeral of victims, and as well as the demonstrations in Gilgit-Baltistan there was one in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

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