Here's What People In The Shia Community Think About The Parachinar Incident And The Media's Silence

By Momina Mindeel | 29 Jun, 2017

While most of us were out celebrating Eid, members of Shia community in Parachinar were out protesting in the streets against the twin attacks that claimed the lives of more than 70 people, leaving several others gravely injured. Eid prayers were offered wearing black arm bands while the protests continued in the city. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a tragedy of this scale has taken place in Parachinar.

 

Parachinar, the capital of Kurram Agency, is a chiefly Shia area in the tribal belt. The town has suffered four blasts in 2017 alone, killing a colossal number of the inhabitants.

Source: businessrecorder.com

This time around, the media blackout and the government’s as well general public’s silence after the attacks were quite vivid. There were rumors that the incident happened to target Shias and to start sectarian violence in the country.

 

We talked to the members of Shia community, including some from Parachinar, about their views on rumors that the incident is to create major sectarian violence and here’s what they said

“It’s heart breaking to see the importance (or lack of it) given to Parachinar. Is it because it’s Fata or  is it because they’re Shia? What is the reason that they’re treated as lesser human beings and lesser citizens? And on top of everything people criticizing the people of Parachinar for standing against the army and for being influenced by other powers, just shows how misinformed our population is. Reading the comments on the videos was really depressing. As far as the media blackout is concerned, I don’t even know where to start. The Bhawalpur incident was an accident, it was very unfortunate but an accident. Yet it gets the front page in a leading Pakistani newspaper on Monday whereas Parachinar gets a small portion on the third page. But no it’s not just disheartening, the situation in itself is tragic but the lack of empathy demonstrated but the public and politicians is the saddest part,” says a Shia lawyer based in Karachi, who wanted to stay anonymous for safety concerns.

 

People within the community want acknowledgment that the Parachinar incident did actually specifically target the Shia community

Source: aljazeera.com

“I feel that the biggest problem is that we’re not addressing this as Shia genocide. Even though we all know that Shias are specifically being targeted. Even when the Abbas town incident happened back in 2012, people kept saying ke sirf Shia tou nahin mare aur bhi loug mare hain. We’re not saying ke aur loug nahin mare honge, what we’re saying is that ignoring the fact that shias were targeted is ignorant and hypocritical. Even yesterday, some minister gave the statement that Internet pe Jo firqa wariayat phelayi ja rahi hai Uske khilaf cyber crime unit action Le ga and the firqa wariyat he was referring to was people talking about this incident and empathizing with the victims. If this issue is being suppressed on a governmental level, there’s something seriously wrong with us, ” Shia student, Miss Hassan, has been a witness to such attacks in the past.

“I myself have lost family members in various target killing attempts. Well! not attempts since they all died. And I know a lot if people who lost family members in the Abbas town incident,” tells Miss Hassan.

 

The lack of extensive media coverage is leading to growing resentment within the Shia community against their marginalization in the media narrative

Source: Q and A News/Youtube

Mr. Haider belongs to Parachinar and is currently working at Ernst and Young, and he says, “with due respect, keeping in view the current scenario, Parachinar is being neglected rather vividly. We’ve sacrificed a lot. We have fought the war against Taliban militancy from 2007 to 2012, losing 4400 precious lives consequently. And cheery on top all of them were educated people . Mostly engineers and teachers. Even now, after 7 brutal suicide attacks, there’s deafening silence from the Media. Moreover, the price of my dead body is 3 lacs while the price of a Bahawalpur dead body is 20 lacs (not to disrespect the victims of the Bahawalpur incident). I know money won’t return my beloved but as a citizen of Pakistan defending my fellow Pakistanis without any ransom on borders, I am still discriminated against. My family has to leave their business in Peshawar because of the Taliban threats. I have survived a suicide attack that claimed 28 lived in Peshawar. I was there all night in CMH, carrying almost dead injured bodies till 3 am.”

Silence from the media, as a whole, and quick fix solutions like announcing money for victims and their families don’t actually contribute to positively integrating a community that is increasingly feeling marginalized. Maybe it’s time to actually rethink ways to not alienate minority communities so a long-term peaceful resolution can happen.

 


Cover Image via: tribune.com.pk

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