By Dr Shahid Qureshi : –
The recent stopping of most popular TV news show hosted by Ahmed Qureshi by the management under pressure from the sectarian pro-Iran lobby in Pakistani media is widely condemned and raised very serious concerns of this mafia style hegemony. All that happened after Ahmed Qureshi did an exclusive program about the execution of a Saudi citizen and cleric Sheikh Nimir after conviction from the court and trial lasted over two years. People find that program very informative and there was no element of abuse or discrimination. But the abusive response from MQM-A terrorist group’s Shia dominated leadership was enormous. They made it into like ‘if one criticise Israel it means one is against the Jews’, with same style blackmailing tactics. This is new ‘anti-Semitism’ style blackmail in Pakistan.
Watch Express News program @Q with Ahmed Quraishi aired on 3rd January 2016 on Saudi Executions of its citizens.
Many analysts believe that MQM-A is a terrorist group and an ‘Indian Asset’ involved in sectarian killings of both Shias and Sunni scholars. Its members have been arrested and confessed receiving terrorist training in both Iran and India. Security establishment must understand that if MQM-A is an Indian Asset also protected by other enemy agencies is not just more than a ‘hired gun’. Surely Iran does not benefit from MQM-A terrorist activities and killings in Pakistan? Let’s do the maths if India is very close to Iran and terrorist receive terrorist training in Iran and kill Pakistani citizens both Shias and Sunnis which cause sectarian tensions in Pakistan. Who is the beneficiary and who is the loser? Obviously Pakistan is the target in loser. India is using this sectarian divide for long time.
Post 9/11 the Shia narrative is coming from people like Vali Nasr an Iranian born US professor at US Naval Academy. He is son of Hosain Nasr and wrote book “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam Will Shape the Future” published 4 May 2007, by Vali Nasr (Author). Due RAW’s infiltration in the ranks former interior minister Rehman Malik banned the entry of Indian Shia Zakirs in Pakistan during Moharram for security reasons as they were involved in fanning sectarianism.
Pakistani society is very tolerant and don’t have sectarian mind-set at all but in past few years’ lot of foreign money and content have been injected in Pakistani media with a sectarian brief and controlling the media as matter of policy. Shia population in Pakistan is less than 3% but their growth in media and politics is far more than their size. Even foreign news organisations also prefer to have a Shia Pakistani correspondents or journalists. Now Pakistani media only reporting Sunnis going to join IS but they have not reported anything about the Shias going to Syria via Iran to fight with Asad forces on very high salaries and full financial support in case of death. Some Pakistani Shia have been buried in Iran after they were killed in Syria.
On the other hand, we see Shia groups constantly undermining Pakistan at all international forums as if state of Pakistan committing systematic genocide of Shias in Pakistan? Majority of the Pakistanis killed in the war against terror were obviously Sunnis also Christians and other minority groups. I have not seen a single Sunni group standing outside Pakistan High Commission in London or British Prime Minister’s residence No – 10 Downing Street blaming Pakistan but I have seen Shia groups and Pakistani media covering them. Nobody said to them all Pakistanis are together and victims in this menace of war on terror. They are the same faces who turn up with candles as civil society in front of Pakistan High Commission. Can someone clarify with them which side they are on? This small opportunist minority has its own agenda and financial interests. This behaviour need serious attention and correction.
We see this mafia control of same experts for decades over and over again to the point that directors and producers not part of the mafia frightened and scared. This ‘racketeering’ must end and people involved mend their ways as it is not sustainable and is now backfiring. For example, few years ago when famous religious scholar Dr Isarar Ahmed died Pakistani media ignored his death, kill the news and continue useless hours’ coverage of Shoaib Malik and Indian player Sania Mirza wedding ceremonies. Ahmed died of a cardiac arrest at his home in Lahore on the morning of 14 April 2010.
Pakistan’s overwhelmingly Sunni majority society is very open minded and tolerant as well as intertwined with inter marriages and relationships. Khurshid Kasuri Pakistani foreign minister told me London while talking about his meeting with Iranian foreign foreign minister.
Pakistani foreign minister said to his Iranian counterpart in Tehran: “Shias of Pakistan are not like Sunnis in Iran and he pointed to a high official with him and said ‘he is a Shia now you show me any Sunni around you of his rank”.
Read more: “Iranian intelligence ‘Honey Trapped’ Pakistani President” Published on January 6, 2016
Coming back to the media spin and manipulations on foreign briefs have crossed all levels of security limits and red line. Pakistani media and its foreign paid exerts have been constantly scoring own goals and promoting Indian and Iranian narratives. These writings and comments back fire later at the international stage when Indian and international media ‘quote them in debates with Pakistani officials and experts’. There is a limit of ‘freedom of speech’ but in Pakistan you can say anything you like that damages state interests but as soon as you say anything about the ‘criminal elite’ and their activities you are done.
Obviously they like the justice done only at lower level as long some poor are hanged. Obviously all the money injected in Pakistani media is through this elite who is also involved in terrorist financing. It is common knowledge that certain channels are funded by Iranian, Indian and US money. That made many people surprise how can security establishment allow that to happen. one can bet all the sectarian groups operating in and out of Pakistan had Indian connections who follow foreign lines in media and send their activists which are accommodated in media programs. The so called civil society groups have sectarian as well as Indian connections. They run around in the foreign embassies for funding not just to buy candles but also follow agenda.
It is time to close down these sectarian cells and put an end to all kind of hate speech and destroy abusive material. All Pakistani minority groups and citizens are protected by the state constitutions and Iran need not worry about Pakistani Shias and Saudis about the Sunnis. A stich in time save nine.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He is a PhD in Political Psychology and also studied Law at a British University)