Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shias under siege in NW Pakistan



2009-03-27 India-Pakistan

Shias under siege in NW Pakistan


Taliban have imposed a crippling blockade on Shia communities in northwestern Pakistan raising concerns of a 'dire humanitarian crisis'.

In a Tuesday peace summit held in northwestern city of Parachinar in Kurram Agency, political and religious leaders said the lack of government control had allowed the Taliban to pursue their aggressive agenda in the region.

The summit comes after reports of grave human rights abuses against Shias in Parachinar, which later turned in to a complete siege.

Although Shias are the majority in Kurram, they are surrounded by the Taliban-linked aggressive militants who have gone so far as to cut off roads over the past few months. The militants are also accused of kidnapping or killing those trying to deliver supplies to the Shia areas.

Shia farmers have been forced to sell their agricultural produce in Afghanistan instead of the markets in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.

Taliban-linked militants in Parachinar, Hangu district and much of the Kurram tribal agency have killed 25 to 30 people on a daily basis over the last six months. Some local media say more than 1,300 Shia community members have been killed in the region since 2007.

They claim that security forces in the tribal regions are 'under the influence of local Taliban groups', adding that law enforcement officers have 'willingly or unwillingly' launched a clamp down on Shia Muslims.

The killing of Shias is to such extent that has caused international outrage with rights groups and regional countries including Iran expressing concern over the 'genocide'.

The leading Shia figure in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has issued a ruling (fatwa) with respect to the treatment of the Shia in the Parachinar. The fatwa encourages all Shia Muslims in Pakistan to do everything within their power to help their "brethren."

Shias say they make up one-third of Pakistan's 160 million-strong population. Since the 1980s, thousands of people have been killed in violence-related incidents in Pakistan by extremist groups - who have embarked on an 'ominous mission' to 'eliminate' Shia elites across Pakistan.

They have killed hundreds of Shia medical doctors, university professors, lawyers and police officers across the violence-wracked country over the past few years.

Moderate Pakistani Sunni groups believe that leaving Shias at the mercy of the Taliban is a conspiracy against the country.






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