The barbarians have attacked another shrine – no respite for Karachi

Raza Rumi

Karachi’s famous shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi was attacked a while ago. Over 60 people are injured and 12 are dead. After Lahore’s Data Darbar attacks, this is a trend that is gaining an ugly momentum. We condemn this act and mourn the deaths of innocent people who were visiting to perhaps allay their stress and seek some peace from the place. Shrines are not just religious – these are public spaces and also cultural markers. What a shame that terrorists are trying to destroy our culture and turning us into a bunch of afraid people living in a fractured and violent society.

Thursdays are special for shrine-goers. And this is what suits the terrorists’ agenda. This is not the first time that such a heinous tragedy has occurred. We are living amid barbarians who have no tolerance for people with inclusive and plural Sufi thought. Karachi has suffered such an attack for the first time. Reports of the city having turned into a hub of Al-Qaeda and faith-based militants are all too well known. A new phase of terror may have bgun for the city that has already been suffering ethnic, sectarian and other forms of violence. This does not augur well for the port city, its centrality to our economy, trade and prospects.

The majority of Pakistani (and South Asian) Muslims follow the Barelvi school of thought which has historically been inclusive, and with few exceptions non-violent. In pre-1947 subcontinent such a local variant could easily co-exist with other religions and faiths.The tradition continued until the rise of petrodollars enabled many Sunni-ideological states to invest heavy money into the propagation of a particular brand of Islam that is exclusive and in many ways anti-minorities and anti-women. Hence the unprecedented growth of madrassas in Pakistan during the 1980s (which coincided with the Afghan jihad project).

What is the agenda of those attacking Pakistan now. Well they want a single or a cluster of Emirates to be formed in Pakistan where the inherent pluralism of Pakistan is eliminated. Shias and other minorities should either be killed or live in fear (the way they do in a friendly Islamic country); Sufi Islam is declared as biddat or even better ‘shirk’, Wahabi practices are introduced and women are rendered invisible from public life. This agenda is domestic and the gloabal one is anti-US, anti-West and anti-modernity. Sufi Mohammad’s statements after Nizam e Adl may be noted (he rejected the Constitution, democracy and the system of governance).

Our encouragement to such trends by a state that  adopted jihad as a policy and foreign funds have brought us to this pass that we have militants and suicide bombers everywhere. Nevertheless, the state has since 2004 gradually reversed its policy and last year’s military operations show that the establishment is serious about it. Widespread public support to the operations last year were also encouraging.

Having said that before the military operation, we had a whole section of media industry drumming up support for Taliban by saying those who were attacking civilians and our cities were actually Hindu Taliban or US mercenaries. A large section of urban middle classes (who matter in this country) also bought into this argument. This is why our knee-jerk reactions still remain the same: “No Muslim can ever do it” or Indians and Blackwater are attacking us.

Even the head of Punjab’s judiciary had indicated in his remarks that the role of Blackwater in Lahore’s Data Darbar attacks should be investigated. Earlier the honourable judge said that “Hindus” were responsible for the blasts all over Pakistan. His views have not come in isolation – there is a wider belief in urban areas that our external ‘enemies’ are creating havoc in this country.

If this is the level of our denial then God save Pakistan.

One thing is clear. Intelligence apparatus is not working (evidently); the Police are scared or lack resources/cooperation; the prosecution is dysfunctional; and the courts unwilling to sentence terrorists. With our non-performing criminal justice system, there is not much that we can hope in terms of law enforcement. Without a major overhaul of the system, Pakistan will continue to be a playground for terrorists.


Filed under Al Qaeda, Karachi, Pakistan, Sufism, Taliban, Terrorism

19 responses to “The barbarians have attacked another shrine – no respite for Karachi

  1. Nasir

    Such a shame but not a suprise, these savages will continue to murder in the name of allah because no pakistani leader has had the backbone to stand up to them. The grandfather and pimp of the extremists Zia ul mullah created these beasts but the public is just as guilty for not speaking up or creating enough pressure to make governments act

  2. Nasir

    forgot to add that the Average pakistani has always and will always be in self denial – that is why india is a becoming an economic superpower and we are a third world country with a few families that run us like a their personal property

  3. DAsghar

    Raza Bhai,

    I read your article with a heavy heart. I am at work on this side of the globe and needless to say, not a good morning news to digest first thing. Every single time such incidents occur, my heart pounds with thousand beats. When is this madness going to end? It appears never. Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine is in the heart of Clifton in my beloved Karachi and a few miles away from where my loved ones live.

    Of course the chatter boxes at the media will be quick to blame this on the “usual suspects” and will clearly see the “invisible hands” behind all of this. Killing in the name of GOD has been the hallmark of Muslims of the 21th Century. Hope GOD gives some sense in the head of “brainless and ruthless killers.” Too bad that it will be business as usual tomorrow, till the next one shatters our collective conscience.

  4. Raza,

    I am an occasional reader of your blog, despite that I have never been to Pakistan. You are a wonderful writer.

    I am very upset by this violence and I pray that cooler heads will prevail in your country. Good, honest people do not deserve to die for simply living their lives.

  5. The monster of terrorism bites the hand that feeds it, sooner or later. Think Al-Qaida/Taliban and U. S. A., LTTE and India , and now, Taliban/anti-India militant groups and Pakistan.

    It is high time all countries of the world realised that.

  6. Talha

    @ Sidhusaaheb

    This monster you speak of was the creation of the wretched Zia and his Wahabi friends with the blessings of US.

    That shameful dictator initiated this militant campaign and utilized it in India too. We the good citizens of Pakistan would never have indulged in such.

    we suffer like others for the actions of a few.

  7. Tilsim

    @ Sidhusaheb

    Thank you for your comment. We empathise and pray for those over the border that have been subject to this barbarism as well the huge number of our own victims. I know there are people in Pakistan’s security forces that are fighting this menace and losing their lives for it. I salute them. I also believe that this is an intense political struggle for the soul of this country and there are also those within our power and security structures who aid and abet these forces. As a human being, a citizen of Pakistan and a muslim, I feel helpless (and very very mad). I feel angry that some Pakistanis are still confused about the nature of absolute evil wearing political jack boots. At a time of civil war, such as what we are facing in Pakistan, the nation must unite. Instead the terrorists are exploiting our confusion and the myriad economic, religious and political quarrels in Karachi, full of violence. It’s hard to adequately describe the feeling of revulsion at this state of affairs yet life meanders along for most people.

    Abdullah Shah Gazi, the patron saint of Karachi is thought to have been the great grandson of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). He is a symbol of tolerance and spirituality. Also interestingly some people believe that Raja Dahir of Sindh gave him protection against the Ummayads who were out to kill members of the Banu Hashim (or the tribe of the Prophet). They succeeded in killing him and Raja Dahir. In the end, the extremists want to subjugate everyone to fear and some brainwashed people’s bias towards religious ‘purity’, intellectual snobbery or political biases make them too numb to even raise their voices appropriately.

  8. Mustafa Shaban

    A very sad incident indeed. Our police is not functioning, they is too much curoption and they are too politicized. Intellegence is doing a lot of work, foiling attempts by terrorists to do such acts but they cant succeed all the time. But we still need to improve our intellegence gathering a lot to counter these attacks.

    @Tilism: Can you elaborate more on the Ummayad plot and stuff? just interested.

  9. Tilsim

    @ Mustafa Shaban

    As most of the related stuff, such as cupping water to tame the sea, it’s part of the legends and hearsay of the time so take from it what you will. Interesting take nevertheless.

  10. moniems

    As long as putting Kafirs to the sword is Halal, the violence we are seeing in Pakistan will continue.

    There are just too many Pakistanis in the business of putting Kafirs to the sword.

    There also is no dearth of Kafirs in Pakistan; every Pakistani is a Kafir for some Pakistani or the other.


  11. Amna Zaman

    The terrorist must be defeated with army intensity and rehabilation in the regions. Education and secular ideas must be promoted in these areas as that will root out extremism.

  12. Hira Mir

    Not a surprise until we citizens take part in peaceful elements and promote it with one another. The youth nationwide needs to be more secular to prevent bloodshed.

  13. Ally

    Each time i hear of these attacks, my belief that only a secular Pakistan can beat this is strengthened.

  14. moniems


    Can Pakistan become secular now?

    Even if we get a secular constitution, what are we going to do with all those who are behind this barbarism? And, there are quite a lot of them!

    We cannot possibly make them disappear.

    Solution not implementable!

    Do we have an alternative?

  15. Feroz Khan

    Pakistan and Pakistanis should be prepared for more acts, like this one, in the future. It is too late to stop this rot now and each year, there will be more barbarians at the gates and there will be less resistence to them.

    Blaming Zia-ul-Haq or just blaming is not the answer anymore.

    The question is what are YOU prepared to do?

    I will be simply candid in my comments. I see no hope for Pakistan. I see no hope that the people of Pakistan, who are really Lemming minded, when it comes to religion, have the courage to state what is obivious.

    This is a war of convictions being fought; what you believe in. The people who bombed the shrine are willing to fight and die for their believes and in the end, they will win!

    They will win, because the so-called secular minded Pakistanis are not willing to stand up and fight and if necessary die, for what they believe in.

    You, the secular minded Pakistanis are on the losing side of this war. You really need to make up your minds, because you cannot win this war; so you better be mentally prepared to live under the new order that is being created in Pakistan and if you are not; then start looking for ways and means of leaving Pakistan for an exiled existence some where else.

    There is still some time left to make the hard choices, but you do not have the moral courage to make that choice. The only choice before you now is, whether you wish to die, like this slowly over the next few years, or do you wish to resist.

    To resist means to reject religion and its influence and role in your daily lives to the point that it stops to control your life. It means that you must have the courage to accept that what your religion taught you and condoned for you was wrong and you must challenge it, when ever you see that it is wrong instead of meekly accepting its injustices and all the misery it is creating in your lives.

    When any ideology achieves that stage; of absolute domination of an individual’s life, their thoughts, their manner of conduct; it is called fascism. You are going to be living, very soon, in a fascist state based on the nihilism of a religious idea promising utopia and in order to live in this utopia, you will have to give up your personal freedoms and any independent thoughts you might have and in return, you will be allowed to live, in a shackled existence, for your obedience to the state and its laws.

    When you disappear from the scene, and the world moves on, rest assured; there will be still be museums in the world and there will soon be displays called Pakistaniyiat; which will become a new word, and a metaphor, in the international lexicon meaning when a nation is collectively willing to destroy itself because it is too afraid to resist the every reasons and causes which are destroying it.

    On August 14, in the future, there will be discounted group rates and people will come to the museums and see the artifacts of Pakistaniyiat and take pictures and wonder that did people such as these really exist!

    Maybe, the displays of Pakistaniyiat will be placed next to the Dodo bird, because they did share one similarity. They were both stupid and both allowed themselves to be killed into extinction.


  16. zainulabidin

    It seems to me that Pakistan has 2 choices now:

    1)let all the sacred shrines be demolished one by one
    2)demolish all maddrassas.

    Pakistani maddrassas are at the cutting edge of the developing technologies such as living/breathing bombs. Alas, if they could have only put their creative talents to other uses.

    Already 3 sacred tombs of saints have been demolished. These are the saints that brought Islam to sub-continent in the first place. It’s sad the wahabi’s want to destroy their legacy.

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