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Ambassador Sherry Rehman and Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Masood Khan: Stop the targeted violence against Shia Muslims in Pakistan

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Targeted attacks against the Shia Muslim community in Pakistan continue to increase, and Pakistan’s Shia Muslims are now also receiving death threats via text message saying “Kill, Kill, Shia”.  As recently as November 20, 2012, bombs ripped through Shia Muslim processions and religious spaces in Rawalpindi and Karachi, resulting in at least 25 dead as well as 69 injured. Two days earlier, a remote-controlled bomb—loaded with ball bearings to inflict maximum casualties—exploded in Abbas Town, Karachi, killing 3 and injuring more than 15. On November 6, gunmen opened fire on a vehicle in Saddar, Karachi, killing Allama Aftab Haider Jafri, a religious scholar and leader, and his companion, Mirza Shahid Ali. 

In two separate attacks on September 1, 2012, gunmen attacked and killed eight Shia in Quetta. In the first attack, four armed men riding on two motorbikes shot dead five Hazaras at a bus stop-the victims were all vegetable sellers returning from the market. Within two hours of the first attack, gunmen riding a motorbike attacked a nearby bus stop, killing more two people from the community.

On August 30, gunmen riding a motorbike shot dead Zulfiqar Naqvi, a Shia judge, his driver, Essa Khan, and a police bodyguard, Abdul Shakoor, as Mr. Naqvi headed to work in Quetta. On Friday, August 17th, a bomb hit a bus carrying Shia students to an Al Quds Day Rally in support of the people of Palestine in Karachi, killing one person and wounding 11. The day before, Thursday, August 16th, militants pulled 22 Shia passengers off buses and gunned them down in a remote northern mountain pass in Mansehra. Police officers confirmed that at least a dozen armed men stopped the three buses carrying passengers on the road between Rawalpindi and Astore, checked their identification papers, singled out the Shia passengers and then shot them dead at point-blank range.

These attacks are just the latest in a long line of targeted attacks against Pakistan’s Shia community. Thousands have died over the last decade in similar attacks, including hundreds of Shia professionals who were systematically targeted for attempting to help their community by alleviating their financial and socio-economic suffering.

However, we have yet to hear or see any firm response by the Government of Pakistan. While authorities claim to have arrested dozens of suspects in attacks against Shias since 2008, only a handful have been charged, and no one has been held accountable for these attacks. Pakistan has a duty to protect ALL of its citizens—regardless of religious affiliation. Pakistan cannot continue to treat its Muslim citizens who are not Sunni as well as its non-Muslim citizens as subhuman. Pakistan’s regime of legal discrimination is not only immoral, it is in direct and indirect violation of almost every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - especially Articles 1, 2, 3, 7, 18, 19, 21, 22 - of which Pakistan is a signatory. If Pakistan is to take its rightful place in the comity of nations, especially as a new member state on the United Nations Human Rights Council, it needs to take prompt and decisive action against the perpetrators of such violence.

Sign the petition today to request the Ambassadors to call on the Government of Pakistan to:
* Urgently prosecute those responsible for the recent attacks, and
* Investigate the increasing violence against Shias and all religious minorities in Pakistan, so that every person, including the affected Shia community in Pakistan, may enjoy the fundamental rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
* Take urgent measures to protect members of the Shia community from militant groups across Pakistan,
* Increase the number of security personnel in Shia majority areas and regions at high risks of attacks, and
* Ensure active protection for those facing attacks from militant groups to address the growing perception that state authorities look the other way when Shia are attacked.
* Actively investigate allegations of collusion between militant groups and military intelligence and paramilitary forces, as well as members of the judiciary, holding personnel responsible if found to be involved in criminal acts of this kind.

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