Rusty Walker is an educator, author, political analyst, ex-military, from a military family, retired college professor, former Provost (Collins College, U.S.A.), artist, musician and family man. Rusty Walker is an ardent supporter of Pakistan.
An Open Letter to the World Press
Dear Sir and Madam of the Press Corps:
I am writing this letter by way of introduction to tell you about Let Us Build Pakistan (LUBP). LUBP is operated and managed by a number of concerned citizens and non-citizens of Pakistan, some of whom live abroad, who understand the social and geopolitical developments at all levels, and attempt to post their insights and offer solutions. We have among us successful professionals in various fields of endeavor: educators, scholars, writers, artists, and business executives, and the like; as LUBP’s Editorial Board comprises individuals from different walks of life, experts in their fields, and all are dedicated to maintaining unbiased, democratic principles of justice, equality, pluralism and protection of minorities within Pakistan. These qualities we seek conform to the global desire for peace, and conform to the lessons in the Muslim Quran and the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and so, are in line with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as a non-radical, peace-minded country. All important matters are consulted at the Board level. Ali Taj, as the new editor of this publication, upholds and coordinates our quest for truth and justice. All of this is based entirely on voluntary efforts and none of us is engaged in this enterprise as a professional reporter, or on remunerative basis. Since, we do not include any paid journalists on this forum we are not influenced by the establishment or any official forces within Pakistan, and can give an unbiased voice to the people. LUBP has a wide readership, with some articles reaching up to 30,000.
Some of us choose to use our real names and others for protection of our families, use aliases and pseudonyms, as we collect information from the people on the ground, in areas of conflict, on location, and we burn the midnight oil, while struggling to perform whatever we do for a living during the day. The reason we are compelled to do this, is that the Pakistan Media is largely influenced by the Jihadi establishment, that is, terrorist organization leaders, and some dark elements within the ISI and Pakistan Military, either through misinformation, co-option or coercion. This is not meant as an indictment of all Pakistani press, there are some brave souls in the media that relate the facts and we honor them for their bravery.
When the justice system is compromised, then the courts and witnesses are at risk, trials are delayed, the guilty walk, and the innocent are victimized or silenced. Even Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has been shown to favor certain terrorist groups by setting free confessed murderers. Just one notorious example is Mumtaz Qadri, the leader of SSP’s militant wing, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who admitted to murdering Salmaan Taseer over Taseer’s opposition to the Blasphemy Law, is among the most infamous of those set free. The Chief Justice is first cousins with the notorious Law Minister of the PML-N Punjab Provincial Government, Rana Sanaullah. Sanaullah has publically supported the chief of Sipah-e-Sahaba, Maulana Ludhianvi, one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in Pakistan.
We have observed that the vast majority of established media in Pakistan, whether printed, online or TV media are on a path to ‘Talibanize’ Pakistan, and either knowingly, or unwittingly, are going to make this into a Jihadi state.
Their tactics include avoiding topics, obfuscating events to their advantage, and outright lying to the public. Unfortunately, most people from the West, and even the Western media, are insufficiently versed in Pakistan politics, and the alphabet-soup of Jihadist networks and organizations, many of whom simply change their names when banned:
A quick overview: a Takfiri is a Muslim who accuses others of apostasy; in Pakistan, usually by unsubstantiated accusation. These are not Quranic disciples of the faith guided by the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), they are radical Salafist groups, who are Wahhabi Arabs who believe in violent Jihad, and ultimately want to return the world to a 7th Century Muslim Caliphate. Deobandi is a revivalist movement in Sunni Islam under the Hanafi School. Here it is an important distinction that must be made emphatically, Sunnis and Deobandis are not the problem, and are also victims of terrorism. It is radical Sunnis, and radical Deobandis that are the danger. Many are funded by Saudi Arabia. Salafi-Takfiris have split from the orthodox method of establishing takfir through the processes of the law, and have appointed themselves gate-keepers of the faith, over and above the millions of legitimate Sunnis who live in harmony with Shias, Christians, Hindus, and other faiths.
The average person on the streets of London or New York only knows of al-Qaeda and perhaps that it has affiliates. The reality is that increasingly, there are growing networks of Jihadists, well-known to the U.S. CIA and ISI of Pakistan. Many terrorists are recruits from the Madrassas- taking young minds, vulnerable to hostility towards the West, brain-washed into suicide bombing themselves into oblivion, in direct opposition to suicide that is forbidden by the Quran. Some are tribal converts by force and a waste of young, potentially productive lives; and, yes, some are educated, urban professionals that are radicalized perhaps by past Western policies. Nevertheless, the Takfiri Deobandis include growing affiliates: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), SSP’s militant wing, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), SSP-ASWJ and various other Taliban Wahhabi-Deobandi militants, and al Qaeda.
Often we have observed the press being lured by their narrative either in a bid to produce quick ‘scoops’ or for the sake of expediency, or unfamiliarity with the complexities of this country, and duplicity inherent in the “Strategic Depth” strategy that lingers on with the Pakistan Army who rely on home-grown terrorists as a surreptitious force against India over disputes over Kashmir.
Hence, this overture to the World Press is important for us, as much of our hope to get the real story across to the world, lies in people like yourself who are prepared to dig deeper to ferret out the truth; those of you that are fearless in facing and writing the truth. Some of our writers and the past editor have been forced by threats to go into hiding to avoid assassination or harm to their families. And, yet, we still continue to extricate the truth and post it regardless of threats or attempts at intimidation.
As a nation, Pakistan remains far removed from the initial pluralism and the acceptance of diversity promised by the Founding Fathers, Muhammad Ali Jinnah “Quaid-i-Azam” and the spiritual Founding Father, Sir Muhammad Iqbal. We believe that the single biggest problem that Pakistan is beset with lies in religious extremism. It is imbedded in the Constitution and Pakistan Penal Code, not by the people of Pakistan, but by politicians for political advantage or military dictators. Intolerance and fanaticism terrorize both the public and the civil government, some of whom have given their lives opposing the Blasphemy Law- The Taliban murdered Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, and his son, Shahbaz Taseer, is still kidnapped from his home in Lahore, and Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, murdered, all of whom spoke out against the Blasphemy Law. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Ambassador to the U.S recently has even been accused of Blasphemy in a purely politically-motivated tactic by these Jihadists.
Many unpublished accounts of abuse against women in tribal lands have occurred. Malala Yousafzai of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is the most highly-publicized of these; a 15 year old advocate of women’s education shot in the head and neck, but, survived the Taliban assassination attempt, and has rightfully been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize.
One manifestation of this growing list of atrocities is Shia Genocide. The media obfuscation of the current Shia Genocide taking place in Pakistan takes the form of calling it a “sectarian” issue, as if two sides where fighting. In fact, only the Shias are the targets of radical Sunnis (moderate Sunnis live in peace with Shias). Even Human Rights Organizations have mistakenly referred to targeted killings and beheadings of innocent Shias, as a “sectarian conflict,” which categories the atrocities into a historical context which is easy to dismiss. Oscar winner from Pakistan was still denying Shia Genocide only days ago http://criticalppp.com/archives/235017 . So was prominent Shia TV anchor, while it is a fact that more Shia Muslims have been killed in Pakistan than the carnage in Serbia before it was declared a Genocide. The Shia genocide is being overlooked as it happens in real-time, much as was Darfur and Rwanda. The mainstream media, also apparently in fear of Takfiri Deobandi Jihadists, remain silent. http://criticalppp.com/archives/81583
We believe that stemming Shia Genocide is not only essential for the country’s survival but would also help the persecuted Ahmadis and moderate Sunnis. More Shias in Pakistan have been murdered than the numbers killed in Serbia before it was declared genocide. The real on-going genocide mounts now to 20,000 Shia dead since mid-1980s. The on-going murders have largely gone uninvestigated, the perpetrators rarely brought to justice; although terrorist groups have taken credit for them, authorities in Pakistan turn a blind eye to the murders. The World Press can be of enormous assistance in clarifying such tragedies, bring pressure upon the Pakistani government and military to move to action.
How can we even begin to stem this if people with positions of responsibility and authority continue to wrongly identify the killers? This is a pattern that needs to change. This is not Shia versus Sunni or sectarian in nature. Most of Pakistan minorities are under threat of the Takfiri Deobandi Taliban, convert or DIE.
Take this piece from The Friday Times (TFT) as an example: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20121228&page=7
Here is our response to it: http://criticalppp.com/archives/241639
The Pakistani English press is read by a small minority and frankly we are reaching an increasing large percentage of their readership. The intellectual elite in Pakistan are on our side. The Pakistan English press is craftily ‘handled’ to fool the global press outlets and misguide Western understanding of events. The tactics vary from drafting in some journalists, to silencing others who are not for sale. Saleem Shehzad is just one extreme case in point.
In this particular piece it seems TFT has gone further by promoting the fact that all Deobandis consider Shia and Ahmedis to be Kafir (“unbelievers,” and thus, targets). However, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, head of the Pakistan Ulema Council, for example, in his public discourse says the opposite. Not only has he said that to our editor in a personal exchange, but various moderate Ulema have expressed that a General Takfeer of Shia is “Haram” (troublemaker) and makes for “Fitna” (chaos). They have used various strong words against such General Takfeer.
We have to take our responsibility as media people seriously and try to stop Takfeer, which to an Islamist constitutes a license to kill. TFT on the other hand is promoting Takfeer by citing some obscure Fatwa saying that Shias and Ahmadi Muslims are Kafir. Clearly they should be doing the opposite and promoting Fatwas that show Shias are part of Islam. Therefore, once we deal with the Takfeer issue the situation will at least improve for the Shia, if not for Ahmedis, which would still need to be addressed separately. Other religions have been targeted by the Takfiri Deobandis, including our minority Christian community.
TFT could have published these Fatwa form Deobandi alims http://criticalppp.com/archives/237359
Or complimented with these Fatwa by Sunni consensus from Al Azhar http://criticalppp.com/archives/233379 to promote harmony and piece yet they choose to pick one exhibiting the lunacy of Kharji Takfeer.
To summarize we have four main concerns:
1. Misrepresentation of Shia genocide by Takfiri Deobandi militants of ASWJ, LeJ, TTP as Sunni-Shia sectarian violence.
2. Misattribution of Shias genocide by Takfiri Deobandi militants (who are also killing moderate Sunni Barelvis and Deobandi etc) to Sunni militants
3. Completely wiping out of hundreds of non-Hazara Shias killed in Quetta and other parts of Baluchistan while giving Hazara ethnic color to Shia genocide.
4. The HDP (Hazara Democratic Party) is projected on the media as representing Hazaras. They never say these are “HDP affiliates.” They just say these are Hazara. How is that representative of Hazara?
I trust you will try and understand our viewpoint and the need to describe the situation with sharper focus rather than painting the picture with a broad brush. Broader generalizations tend to dampen people’s motivation in areas where we need action. We hope to wake-up the public malaise, into a public outcry against atrocities of which I have outlined above.
An important point that is often lost if one generalizes our message, is that we do not wish to demonize the entire Pakistan Army, many of whom, like our Western military are simply doing their jobs. We distinguish those that are the dark elements. All officials are not corrupt, nor is every person in the security organization ISI, or the Frontier Corps of FATA, or the police, or the PPP, or its rival politicians all responsible for all the ills of Pakistan. This is a problem that has been mounting sinc1947 partition, inflamed during the infamous Zia “Islamization” era, and has been growing as it is often referred to as a Frankenstein in our midst.
Here is one of my earlier posts on Shia Genocide that has had almost 24,000 views and in Facebook terminology has 3,200 “likes” associated with it by those sympathetic to our message. It has been picked up by other international news agencies, posted 4/10/2012 in LUBP:
We remain at your entire disposal for further discussions on these matters. Although these atrocities occur in Pakistan, if left unattended, the terrorist networks involved threaten to have global impact. We are confident that we will be able to understand each other and work in tandem for a common purpose which is worthwhile for both the World Press and LUBP and ultimately for the benefit of Pakistan towards better domestic and international relations.
Some other resources
Here is a link to Mr. Walker’s other articles published on LUBP: http://criticalppp.com/archives/tag/rusty-walker