The third anniversary of Lahore massacre of 14 civilians, including 2 pregnant women, in Model town, Lahore, draws our “civil” society once again to gather together, move through the motions of protest, and raise voices to plea for justice for the victims and their surviving family members.

On June 17th, 2014 a tragedy unfolded at Minhaj-ul-Qura’n International which remains the most heinous crime in the Pakistani history of state terrorism. This atrocity was carried out by Punjab police, which acted at behest of the government, against the innocent, unarmed and peaceful workers of Minhaj-ul-Qura’n. The final death toll of 14 citizens included 2 pregnant women, youth and elderly. Punjab police’s brutality injured over a hundred people and left most of them disabled for the rest of their lives. We commemorate this date, remembering the victims of that terrible event.

According to Minhaj-ul-Qura’n International’s website and the live stories shown by Pakistani media, it was around 1:30 p.m. on Monday night on June 16, 2014 when the hundreds of police officials laid a siege to the central secretariat of MQI and the residence of PAT chief Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. The police launched this operation without any prior warning presumably in the name of removing security barriers. They had heavy machinery at their disposal. Only basic security officials were deployed at the central secretariat and residence of the PAT leader at that time. The Police officers commanding the operation were shown the circular issued by the Model Town Police in which MQI administration had manifestly been asked to make security arrangements in line with the court’s orders in view of possibility of terrorist attack. They were further told that these security barriers were erected under the supervision of police officers of Model Town Police Station but they refused to accept the circular. The discussion about the issue was also held between central leaders and police officers but the police did not seem to relent. Rather, they became more aggressive as time went on and ordered baton-charging of the staff members living in the central secretariat and students of the Minhaj University. These unarmed people braved the police action throughout the night. 

With the rising of the Sun of June 17, the news of state terrorism on the central secretariat of MQI spread like wild fire to every nook and corner of the country. Upon getting the word, the workers, members of civil society and the people at large started reaching the central secretariat. The police deployment also increased as things began to heat up and reinforcements came from all across the city of Lahore. Defending themselves against the brutal police action, the workers warded off the officers from removing security barriers for many hours and they suffered severe baton-charging and pelting of stones by the police in the process. At last, the police resorted to shelling of teargas, aerial firing and even started live firing at the protesters. People started to die. The bullet-riddled bodies could be seen lying on the roads. The people started shifting the injured people to the hospitals on their own. It was after 15 hours of continuous action that the police took control of MQI Secretariat.

stateAfter occupying the central secretariat, the police moved forward to the residence of PAT chief. They fired live bullets at whosoever came their way and removed the security barriers placed in front of Dr Qadri’s house. People started dying there as well. Police also made an attempt to gatecrash into residence of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri. The lady workers present there became shield before the police. Paying little heed to presence of women and showing little regard for the human lives, the Police opened fire at them. Two lady workers were killed on the spot while numerous  others were injured. As a result of this Police attack and state terrorism, seven people including two women died on the spot where as7 more succumbed to their injuries later in hospitals. More than 90 people sustained serious injuries. The hundreds of workers were arrested, thrown into jails and shifted to undisclosed locations. (Source: )

But as the tragedy of model town ended, the mourning of a nation had only begun. News of the massacre soon spread. There wasn’t an eye devoid of tears. The gruesomeness of the massacre was beyond belief. It defied explanation. As children looked at their elders and asked for answers, their elders could only respond with misty eyes. They had no answers themselves, only questions regarding this uninstigated brutality.

I can never forget that day when at her mother, uncle and aunt’s graves, young Bisma cried until she had no more tears. She felt she had nothing more to live for. The pride of her life was gone. The mother she loved and the aunt she adored will never be around her to put a spark in her worried eyes. She can no longer hold her mother’s hands or ask for her advice. Ayesha (younger daughter of Tanzeela shaheed) cried uncontrollably as the body of her mother wrapped in MQI’s flag was lowered into the grave. She will never see her mother again. In the morning she had held her briefly and now, she wished to have held her back tightly and never let her go.

Today, three years after one of the bloodiest day in Pakistan’s history, there are more questions than answers. But, since then, though not like Model Town Massacre but there have been more killings. And the more killers escaped justice without a strong national reaction, the more emboldened it became. Injustice and lawlessness has now become a routine practice that the Sharifs exercise as a method of governance. The 14 victims of Model Town, the victims of Qasoor Rape scandal, the blind and handicapped protestors who were beaten to death, the nurses and young doctors on strike who were humiliated, tortured and even killed, Mashal Khan who was lynched by a mob of religious fanatics for alleged blasphemy, bloggers and social media activists who were illegally abducted, held against their will and tortured for holding pro-humanity views, Asia Bibi and my fellow countrymen who are still in jail for alleged blasphemy just because they are religious minorities, my Ahmadi brethren who are being persecuted for their faith, and I have lost the count of members of Shia community whose lives this regime has so cowardly snuffed out, will never be forgotten until justice for them is done. We will stand for nothing less than full justice for the dead and their families.

I cannot understand how a crime that took place in the view of cameras, where the whole world saw how the innocent civilian citizens were massacred mercilessly, can pass like this without any criminals held to account.

To date, nothing has been done to avenge any of these barbarous acts, especially the model town massacre. On this day of mourning, I call upon the people of Pakistan to remember the victims of Model Town Massacre. I also call for increased awareness of the ongoing suffering of Pakistani Shia community, and a renewed impetus towards finding a solution to this intractable problem, according to the tenets of international law.



This is the most unfortunate thing that we now live in this world to see death alone—a normal phenomenon. Used to seeing arson, people burned to death, killed brutally by terrorists, and butchered in the name of religion and race, numbness has anesthetized our senses—“as of hemlock we have drunk”.

Humanity is so little left on this planet of humans that these images hardly shake our conscience. But the haunting image of a baby’s feeder bottle covered in (probably his own) blood left me traumatized. I’m quite able to take a lot of sad images but I found it difficult to move on with this one.


Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine is certainly not the first and already not the last, but like so many of my friends, this tragedy just took a more personal feel than it already was. Mainly because just after the blast a certain group of people, who have no regard for a human life, started blaming the victims and justifying the tragedy. They seemed to be less bothered by the fact that a suicide bomber killed hundreds of people and all they could talk about was their issues with the Dhamal – A Sufi practice where Sufi Muslims dance and listen to Sufi music to meditate and connect to God.

According to these people, since the Sufi Muslims were practicing a wrong version of Islam, their massacre was justified or not to be mourned in the least. They tweet like robots with no compassion or empathy. Their priorities are all messed up and their rigid self-righteousness always trumps humanity.


This guy, with picture of a terrorist on his display, says, “We’re tolerating your infidel practices for 762 years, you (the victims) should also tolerate a terror attack.”

Then, there is another group of people who love to “condemn terrorism” with a lots of “ifs and buts”. They are the worst kind of hypocrites I’ve ever came across in my life. Throughout the year they’ll continue to call others infidel and wajib-ul-qatal (one who must be killed) and when someone (sharing their thoughts and beliefs) will kill them, they’ll start tweeting their condemnations to act like some ambassador of peace. They can’t and won’t even wait for the families of deceased to process their grief/loss and will start calling them (the victims) infidels again.

WhatsApp Image 2017-02-20 at 14.03.13.jpeg

Classical dancer #SheemaKermani performing Dhamaal at Sehwan shrine.


A so-called Twitter feminist labeling other women as thots because they don’t share her sect.

It’s hard to pull myself up after a tragedy like today’s. It’s even harder when public responses to such tragedies are so misguided and insensitive. It’s time we critically examined some of our knee-jerk reactions for what they actually imply, and especially how they would sound to those directly affected by such tragedy.


He’s fine with terrorism being associated with Islam but hey! Don’t you dare associate dance and music with Islam. A self proclaimed authority on Islam.

Apart from this one particular group that shares the ideology of the terrorists and thus always blame the victims, the others have equally misguided opinions. Some shrug off responsibility by saying ‘No Muslim can do this’ while the others thank God as ‘damage could have been more’. This rhetoric needs to change — even one life lost is one too many, and we’re talking about hundreds here. Lastly, the patriots love to blame India (even when Pakistani Taliban claims the responsibility).

Being Pakistanis, we don’t have to look far to be reminded of the evil that exist in our society, and at times, it threatens to consume us. And yet, as we mourn, I am reminded of some other important truths. Though it feels that the evil is winning, we still hope for a different end of this story. Because we still rest easy in the knowledge that there are some sane voices out there. Though weak and less in number, but seeing people standing against the terrorist’s ideology is a hope.



It was a massacre that shook the nation. On 17 June 2014, 14 political activists of Pakistan Awami Tehreek were shot dead by police at Minhaj-ul-Qura’n secretariat, Model Town, Lahore. This illegal and unannounced operation was carried out by Punjab police before Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s arrival and the only agenda behind this midnight operation was to harass the people and keep them from joining Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri’s antigovernment movement. Police tortured elderly, women and children which was live broadcasted on all national and local TV channels. They opened fire on the unarmed and peaceful workers and killed 14 people including 2 pregnant women and leaving hundreds of youth injured and disable for the rest of their lives.

PMLN and Sharifs bear a long legacy of state-sanctioned police brutality against their political opponents and model town massacres on 17th July 2014 and police brutality against the unarmed and peaceful protestors on 31st August 2014 are testimony to that.

PAT continued to demand justice for their martyrs through ATC and kept protesting on roads as well. But after two and half years, ATC finally broke the silence by refusing to try Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and eleven others, including some federal and provincial ministers, for killing of Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers during the 2014 Model Town incident. And so, the ugly truth of our country is once again in dead bodies littering the ground. The truth of PMLN’s rule is that people asserting their rights and dignity have been brought down in a hail of bullets.

PMLN and Nawaz Sharif promised their voters and citizen a Roshan (bright) Pakistan. But how can something so reminiscent of the country’s most violent apartheid past happen in a democratic “Roshan Pakistan?” Two and a half years on – all the questions remain unanswered. Families of the martyrs are still denied justice and their search for closure goes on.

Back in 2014, in response to intense public pressure in the sit-in, a commission of inquiry was announced to investigate who had given the orders that day to open fire on PAT activists. Justice Baqir Ali Najfi’s commission report directly held Punjab Govt. and CM Shahbaz Sharif to account. Realizing that they’ve been nominated and held directly responsible for the bloodbath in Model Town, Sharifs did not let the report get published.

ATC, yesterday, refused to try CM or any other person nominated by PAT because of “lack of evidence.” This, despite evident that the decision to disperse and disarm the political workers would not have been taken without guidance from the Chief Minister of Punjab, the Punjab Govt. was also absolved of any responsibility.

Spokesperson of Pakistan Awami Tehreek said that they will announce their next course of action after deciding and discussing all the possible options in their executive council’s meeting. But what option do they have? They will protest, their workers and lawyers will go for some other legal course, Sharifs will eventually find a way to get themselves exonerated (like they always do) but what about the martyrs and the families of those killed?

Shamefully, our judicial system remains silent on their fate – the issue of compensation is ‘beyond its remit’. Not only that it is a feeble offering to those left without their loved ones, and still shattered by the violent manner of their deaths but also because the families refused to take any money as compensation. All they want is Qisas (blood for blood) and already deprived of their breadwinner, their struggle deepens.

As ever, anger and frustration lie at the heart of a voter. What happened at Model Town Lahore was a tragedy; the investigation that followed a travesty. Yet still the tragedy continues as the families of victims are denied justice.

I’d like to quote Bishop Rubin Phillip to sum it up:

Has nothing changed in our place, when its truth remains that the armed might of the state acts for the elite of powerful and wealthy, and against our people? No self-righteous declarations of “tragedy”; no insisting on “complexity”; no obfuscating “commissions of inquiry” are enough to hide that truth.


From ‘Young Dracula Association’ to ‘Yahoodi Doctors Association’ – our society’s standards have gone way down.


When it comes to hate speeches, religious minorities are the second biggest target in Pakistan; Shias remaining the first, hands down. I woke up today to a picture of 2 year old Sana flooding my Facebook newsfeed. Those sharing her picture were trying to show their concern for a human life by calling YDA (young doctors association) Yahoodi (Jews) doctors association. The 2 year old Sana died yesterday because she was denied medical attention as the young doctors were on strike. Why were they on strike and are their demands a reason good enough to abandon their patients and ER is another debate. What made me write today is the way some people are trying to take it out by calling the doctors Yahoodi. As if being a Jew is a matter of shame or being called a Jew is a curse or abuse of some kind.


Facebook flooding my TL with hate-speech against Jews

This display of hatred against a religious minority has become a cliché in our society. Hatred against individuals on the basis of religion is now taking various forms. Calling others Jew to shame them or disrespect them is just another form and the way this display of hatred is growing is alarming. Considering oneself superior to others because of race, sect, caste or religion is a legacy we Pakistanis are living with. And this legacy has now left us with a rather criminal mindset. This extremist mindset is the cause of hate towards religious minorities and it’s just a matter of time when the hate turns into bias and eventually leads to attacks and terrorism.

The nature and extent of attacks motivated by hate against religious minorities are influenced by a number of factors, including society, brought-up, basic education (syllabus) and the status of religion/s in a given territory. In the past few years, hate crime reports in Pakistan have indicated that graffiti and vandalism against worship areas and killing people in the name of blasphemy are some of the most common types of crimes motivated by the preached hate and bias against members of other religions.

According to a report education experts believe that the textbooks used in Pakistani schools include factual errors and are filled with hate content against non-Muslims which fuels the increasing levels of religious extremism and intolerance towards people with different faith in the society. Such biased material not only negatively impacts the minds of the majority Muslim students, but also harms the education and growth of non-Muslim students.

For a very long time I used to believe that all Hindus are bad and cruel people and Muslims can never trust Jews and Christians because it’s in their blood to deceive and therefore no one but a Muslim can be my friend. After some sessions with my family I realized that I just have to write all this in my exams to score good grades but I don’t have to believe it as the reality is otherwise. Imagine the amount of stress it can cause to a school going child.


In order to prevent our future generations from being a hypocrite or an extremist we need to contribute to a serious process of curriculum and textbook reform. We must help combat the growing levels of intolerance and violence towards religious minorities in our society. We have to do something to put a stop to this thinking before it is too late.


A humanitarian crisis is unfolding inside Pakistan as thousands of citizens from every walk of life are protesting against the prime minister after his mega corruption was exposed in Panama papers. The Papers appear to have badly dented the credibility of the Prime Minister. Sharif made a couple of media appearances but failed to reply to Panama Leaks revelations. Citizens, since then, are on roads protesting and demanding his resignation.

Despite remaining peaceful on the whole, the protesters have been met with needless escalation and indiscriminate violence by taxpayer-funded, heavily militarized law enforcement protectors of lives of citizens — whose vested interests in maintaining law and order apparently trump human rights and basic decency.


On Thursday, tensions exploded when law enforcement — armed with lethal and nonlethal weaponry — implemented section 144 and declared major areas of capital a no-go zone and descended on PTI’s youth convention that were planning the strategy of their announced protest on 2nd November. Islamabad Police arrested a huge number of people who were “suspected” to join the upcoming protest.

On Friday, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad announced to hold the rally on exact time and venue as announced. Employing teargas shells, sticks and mace against the unarmed crowd, law enforcement forcefully cleared the area — affecting hundreds in the process. Dozens of people including Salman Ahmad (a famous pop singer) were arrested, many were injured and an infant was killed due to heavy shelling. Media and other witnesses on the scene, backed by patchy live stream and recorded video, painted a horrifying picture of the incident.


Despite actively reading and commenting on police misconduct for many years, I am yet to find one major campaign by civil society of Pakistan against the misconduct by police. Let’s talk about the incidents in the past couple years; 14 people were killed and more than 100 were shot by Punjab police in 2014 during the Model Town Massacre. 2 pregnant women were violently thrown to the ground. Doctors and nurses were baton charged by police for demanding a basic pay scale. Farmers and the blind community were subjected to violence for staging a protest in front of Punjab assembly. All these incidents were shown on media and were tweeted about. Police and law enforcing agencies have made a habit of killing people and the worst, they go away with it. In almost every case, the system has exonerated the killer cops hence aiding and abetting the justification of these murders. And almost none of us cared enough to make this issue a priority!


Model Town Massacre – carried out by Punjab Police

A protester, yesterday, got a heart attack during the arrest and needed immediate medical attention. He was lucky enough to be taken to a hospital but was handcuffed all the time. People who dare to come on roads and protest against the corrupt system and thug politicians are subjected to violence and those who get arrested are subjected to conditions that amount to torture and human rights violation in prison. They are provided with substandard diets, are segregated and brutalized on the whim of prison guards, confined to cells 24-7 and denied human contact for weeks at a time. But, unfortunately, too many of us do not question the misconduct because the authorities justify it as effective in stopping crime and regulating law and order. But this is not true; it’s politically targeted mass incarceration which will end up with more chaos.


PTI leader handcuffed in hospital.

Reality is distorted and people fighting for justice, honest system and fair elections are attacked, arrested, tortured and killed by police when people with mind of a dictator rule the country. They rig the election results to come in power and after that they politicize the sacred institutions and when people protest they don’t hesitate stopping them by use of brutal and lethal force. This is wrong and upside down.

The way our law enforcement forces are being used as a tool to inflict harm and terror upon the political opponents of government and unarmed civilians is wrong. This is unjust! It’s intolerable and it must be stopped! Not reduced, but STOPPED! And it will take determined mass resistance and protest to stop it.



Countless incidents of target killings, blasts and violence attacks on Imam Bargahs, Majalis and Shia communities can tell us that a person’s faith can determine the kinds of interactions he or she will have with the society—and how likely it is that he or she will survive the encounter. At this point, this reality is largely beyond debate. Yet the topic of Shia Genocide (unarmed Shia people being killed by the religious fanatics of banned outfits) at wildly disproportionate rates is often dubbed “controversial,” and is framed as an issue about which reasonable people can disagree. It’s not.

Many characterize the dilemma as the result of a lack of faith in “one nation” or “one ummah” thing; others call it a conspiracy against the country and involvement of some third hand. That obscures the problem.

The term “Shia Genocide,” which has been used to draw attention to the problem, has inspired its own pushback, with critics suggesting to call the victims just Pakistanis or Muslims. That’s hugely confusing mainly because when people thriving on sectarian hate and violence make public statements about Shias being infidel and their followers tweet hate speech and distribute literature saying “kill Shia infidels” and wall chalk the same slogans, you just can’t call these killings random.


But any sincere confusion about what the #ShiaGenocide social media campaign means should end with the news of the circumstances of 13-year-old Faraz’s death in Dar-e-Abbas Imambargah, Karachi , yesterday (to say nothing of the recent Hazara incident where 4 women were killed after being identified as Shia).

According to the news reports, Sharifabad police officials said that unknown suspects riding a motorcycle threw an improvised explosive device (IED) at the Imambargah, causing several injuries to persons. The injured include women and children who were coming out of the Imambargah after attending a majlis.

I can’t understand why anyone should not be able to see that this was horribly wrong. The fact that it happened, that those responsible may never be held responsible, and that it hasn’t led to national consensus of horror and outrage paints a clear, simple picture of the reality that people are protesting against when they call it Shia Genocide.

This attack and the last Hazara attack, the latest in a long, long string of never ending cases, stands out. Because of the specific circumstances, they show us a tragedy that even people who hold deeply misguided beliefs about Shias or intense loyalty to “one-ummah” should be able to see as such. There are no distractions. Those who can’t identify genocide in this latest textbook example of how this sectarian bias can lead to merciless death probably won’t see it anywhere.

13 year old Faraz’s death proves that you can get killed just for being a Shia; while doing absolutely nothing wrong.

Keep in mind that these people were doing no harm to anyone. They were just attending a majlis (a religious ceremony). They were unarmed innocent peace loving people. Majority of the victims were women and children and their only crime was being an easy target for the killers.

Everything leads to the conclusion that there was nothing they could have done differently to avoid this fate. It’s a sick and distressing reminder that sect and beliefs determines a person’s likelihood of being killed and even mourned.

You don’t have to be a Shia to imagine the terror people feel knowing that their faith means there’s a chance they will end up dead without even committing any crime. Imagine living in a constant dread of losing your loved ones just because of your faith. Or worse, imagine people celebrating and justifying the death of your friends and family and not only denying your loss but questioning your patriotism and your loyalty towards your country and deen when you tweet on #ShiaGenocide.

Sectarian bias isn’t necessarily about how a person views himself (righteous) in terms of beliefs, but how he views others (infidels) in terms of beliefs. Being a Pakistani, I’m well aware of this lack of regard for the tragedies that befall Shia community. While it’s worth noting that the groups that have protested against sectarian violence in recent years have been extremely diverse, there’s a huge unity when it comes to how people see the problem of calling these killings genocide.

The lack of compassion from my countrymen adds another layer of pain to the distress caused by the deaths themselves. Faraz’s unfortunate death, and the response to it, is just the another clear and cold reminder that we’re still not united against injustice, terrorism and sectarian violence. Like a friend once said:



The treatment of minorities in the judicial system, under the blasphemy law, has become the most profound human rights crisis facing Pakistan in 2016. SC’s failure to hold the pressure of religious fanatics and refusal to Asia Bibi’s final appeal hearing not only undermines any progress that we have made in ensuring NAP but also calls into doubt our faith in the rule of law.


In practice, the blasphemy law has become an instrument of rivalry, personal vendetta and maleficent motive. Mostly, the accused has never even committed any blasphemy and it’s just the violent extremism that’s being justified in the name of fighting blasphemy. This practice reviews the effects of unequal treatment on the religious minorities in particular and on the criminal judicial system generally.

Today, the stories of minorities being mistreated are so frequent and the loss of a human life at the hands of fanatics acting under the name of honor, religion and blasphemy is so steady that we know the next one is as sure to come as Monday will follow Sunday.

I am bringing up this story to press the point that we are living with a legacy. The legacy that sets the stage in for Pakistan’s most prolific Test spinner Danish Kaneria utter the words, “Every avenue has dried up for me in Pakistan; I seem to have no takers for my appeals from the PCB. I am dying. It is because I am a Hindu, a minority in Pakistan. It is because I refused to admit my involvement in spot-fixing when the England and Wales Cricket Board charged me. I want to be heard, is it very difficult to hear me out?”

Now if you think I’m painting the picture too dark, just last year, when the world of physics applauded the discovery of the ‘God-particle’, CNN’s report said:

“Imagine a world where the merchant of death is rewarded, while a scientific visionary is disowned and forgotten. Abdus Salam, Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate, the first Muslim to win the Physics’ prize helped lay the groundwork that led to the Higgs Boson breakthrough. And yet in Pakistani schools, his name is erased from the text books…”

—more evidence of this legacy.

The callous disregard for human life is part of the legacy I’m talking about. The pervasive lack of empathy for the people who don’t share the same faith as a particular group of extremists or—in contemporary times—for the lives of people like Salman Taseer Shahbaz BhattiDr. Chaudry Abdul KhaleeqSuleman Hadayat MasihKhurram ZakiTanzila Amjad & Shazia Murtaza lead me to believe no amount of policy changes will make a major difference if we don’t address the underlying cause that is at the heart of this behavior-lack of empathy.

As I read the heart-wrenching stories of people falling victim to this legacy, it occurred to me that the cruel overseer and the countless other masses who witnessed all manner of brutality and unjust treatment, yet did nothing, are to be blamed equally. Heartlessness does not come naturally; it has to be learned and a culture of heartlessness is one of the legacies that seem to linger, still today.

I don’t think that the indifferent masses, sadistic overseers, unfair judges and the brutal police were born this way—but I do believe they all were conditioned to be so. Same goes for those who don’t directly participate in inciting violence and doing harm to others yet knowingly look the other way and do nothing to stop it. Extremism itself and the callous disregard for the victims of extremism are both the part of this legacy that was handed down to us.

The peculiar institution of fanaticism did more than taking lives; it also conditioned a nation of deaf and blind to lack empathy— to demonstrate the callous disregard for human suffering. That legacy is still with us and it has to be addressed if we are ever to come to terms with our issues regarding peace and interfaith harmony.

At this point, any reader will likely be thinking that I have lost all the hope. And, to be completely honest, there are times I come pretty close. Today, when I read that Supreme Court has adjourned hearing of the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi, I began to feel that hopelessness again. But something usually happens to change my perspective.

This time, what gave me hope is the amount of support I’ve seen for Asia Bibi from the Pakistani youths who are not a religious minority themselves. While not reaching the level that’d be indicative of coming to terms with our past, the educated youths are doing a lot more than the previous generations did, or so it seems to me.