On September 22, the Usanas Foundation, a Udaipur-based think tank, sent a petition on the increasingly deteriorating conditions of minorities in Pakistan and the violation of their rights with the state’s tacit support to the UN secretary-general Antonio Gutteres. A copy of the letter was also sent to Michelle Bachelet UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; USCRIF; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International; Freedom House; Karen Smith, Special Advisor to UN Secy Gen on Responsibility to Protect; Bedault Mylene, Office of the High Comm. For Human Rights and Special Advisor to Sec Gen on the prevention of genocide.
In particular, this letter focused on the Shia community‘s atrocities in Pakistan, with a specific reference to the recent Sunni extremist protest marches seeking the execution of Shias for blasphemy.
On September 12, the petition mentioned, thousands of anti-Shiite protesters, including demonstrations linked to Sunni extremism, rallied in Pakistan’s Karachi on Saturday. The protestors, estimated to be more than 30,000 people, waved pro-Sunni flags and chanted Sunni-power slogans. The rallies followed a raft of blasphemy accusations against the Shiite leaders in Sunni-majority Pakistan after a broadcast of an Ashura procession last month showed clerics and participants allegedly making disparaging remarks about historical Islamic figures.
The rally was organized by the Sunni organization Jamaat-Ahle-Sunnat and the hardline Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). Both of them also organized massive and often violent protests over alleged blasphemy in the past. The march started from Mazar-e-Quaid under the leadership of Grand Mufti of Pakistan Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman with a large number of devotees.
Abid Mubara, the Karachi chief of the Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), was brazen in his threats when he said that Sunnis could “behead people” who blasphemed against their revered personalities. Pockets of demonstrators held banners of the extremist anti-Shiite group Sipah-e-Sahaba, which has been linked to the killing of hundreds of Shiites over the years.
The petition also discussed how the state and its institutions are encouraging hatred and violence against the Shia Muslim minority. The petition mentioned that the Punjab Assembly this July passed the Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam (Protection of Foundation of Islam) Bill, which upheld the Sunni interpretation, the only acceptable version of Islam in Pakistan, as a result of which 42 blasphemy cases were registered against the Shia Muslims. Besides, the petition also mentioned the abduction and forceful conversion of a Sikh girl in the Attock district.
On September 24 Usanas Foundation sent another petition to the UN Secretary-General and all the other entities mentioned above, in which it exposed the brutal murder of Budgam Block Development Council Chairman Bhopinder Singh (from the Sikh community in Jammu & Kashmir) and Srinagar-based lawyer-activist Babur Qadri, by Pakistan-supported terrorist organizations.
Abhinav Pandya, strategic affairs analyst and CEO of the Usanas Foundation, said that after the abrogation of article 370, Kashmiri residents did not protest violently. They are accepting the change. He said that now the onus is on the government to reach out to people, to provide good governance, and to guarantee the security of nationalist and pro-development voices in the valley.