Parachinar is the capital of Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. The area jutting into the Afghan Province of Paktia once served as the summer residence for the Mughal emperors. However the scenic beauty has been overshadowed by the fears of Taliban insurgency after the long Afghan war during the 80s and 90s. Today the Taliban insurgents have possessed the land with a reign of terror, forcing the locals to evacuate in fear.
The insurgency is not a recent event. Blogger Razz provides a quick peek in the past at Waking Life:
Parachinar and Pakistan's other frontier regions have been the victim of a Taliban insurgency ever since the Americans invaded Afghanistan. The ensuing conflict has literally obliterated the tourism industry of that region, and such beautiful places and others (Swat etc.) have sadly been marred by conflict for months now.
Ali Hassnain takes a deeper look at the history of sectarian clashes in the area:
Parachinar is the main city in the Khurram Agency, the only (slim) Shia majority agency in FATA. Total population of the region is about 500,000, with the Shia-majority city of Parachinar home to 55,000. Parachinar and the agency were predominantly Shia until a large influx of Sunnis started with the US-Russia war in Afghanistan, when the Mujahideen used it to raid Afghanistan. With the rise in Sunni numbers, there was also a rise in sectarian violence, but this it seems was qualitatively and quantitatively at far lower levels than what was to come.
The media in Pakistan has been accused of not providing adequate coverage to the event. According to Press TV:
A recent summit held in Iranian city of Qom under the banner “Holocaust of Shias in Parachinar,” came in the wake of the killings of hundreds of Shia community-members over the past six months in Parachinar and Hangu.
Pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants, who are reportedly behind the killings, have imposed an economic blockade against the Shia-dominated population areas.
Ammar Faheem at Ammar 360 is dismayed at the silence of the media as he terms the event a ‘Holocaust against Shia's':
We all have been receiving pictures of beheaded bodies and acts of barbarianism from both Sunni and Shia friends. We all know that dozens of people are violently subjugated to sectarian hatred everyday in this once beautiful tribal area of Pakistan.
What I fail to understand is that the media is absolutely silent on this issue of enormous importance. Where is the justice we talk about? Where are the voices who stand up for human rights? Or are they busy organizing concerts and fashion shows?
The Blogosphere has resolved to take the matter into their hands and spread the word. The media has so far stood silent on the massacre. Further silence on the issue can lead to worsening of the situation and break out of sectarian clashes. The hollers of the victim’s family shouldn’t go unheard. The Blogging community joins hand in hope that their voices will be heard.
In one of my own articles at Pro-Pakistan, I proposed a petition urging people from other sects to join hands with the humanitarians to drive attention to the crisis at hand:
For decades innocent lives have been taken on account of their beliefs. No one has the right to punish anyone for their beliefs. It is not for us to judge others in matters of religion. For once we should condemn those who act like God in their ways and kill people. The silence of media authorities is condemnable. However this shouldn’t stop us from spreading the word. I urge all those in the Blogosphere to spread the word on the blog. You can repost or link back but keep spreading the word.
Our Shia brothers have equal rights to exist and believe. The Muslim majority respects co-existence. We condemn those who justify their actions in the name of Islam. For Islam teaches us tolerance and Unity.
A campaign blog titled Support Parachinar has been put up to highlight the pleas with suggestions and ways to help:
Educate yourselves and people around you about the situation.
Organize prayers, vigils, and workshops in your localities (school campus, public libraries, Friday prayers, mosques and community centers, embassies and press clubs). Prepare large posters with images and concise information.
Write op-ed columns and letters to your local and national newspapers with an informed perspective. Also write to your governments and local and international human rights groups. Hold poster and letter writing sessions in your communities.
The land dubbed as Pakistan’s heaven by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ex-prime minister of Pakistan and founder of PPP -the party currently in Power) has been transferred into the valley of death. The Global community needs to be aware of the situation and address the pleas of the silent victims of the Taliban brutality.