Scourge of Sectarian Violence

Posted by Faheem Belharvi

At least 23 people dies and many more injured in a suicide blast in Rawalpindi. Three people died and many other injured in two different incidents of terrorism in Orangi Town area of Karachi. There has been an incident involving injury and loss of life on most days of the holy month of Muharram thus far and little sign that things are going to improve, with the death toll for the entire country standing at 53.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the Karachi and Rawalpindi attacks. The month of Muharram, considered holy by all Muslims, witnessed gruesome scenes of carnage in different parts of Pakistan. It is unfortunate that the religious bigots should have chosen to strike at a time when Islamabad was hosting the D-8 Summit. Presenting Pakistan as a terror-stricken, investment-unfriendly country when it is soliciting investment from the summiteers for its various development projects is something that gives rise to the suspicion and conspiracies surrounding foreign powers and their involvement. Whatever the truth, it sends a strong unfavourable message to the outside world: in Pakistan, narrow-minded people do not hesitate to cut down even those who belong to another sect of their own religion.

Indeed, there is need to expose the foreign hands in the recent spate of sectarian violence involving brutal attacks against Shia community killing innocent people in Gilgit-Baltistan, Balochistan, Karachi and everywhere in the country. Their aim is to fuel sectarian clashes and create political instability in the country by disturbing the law and order situation. There is a possibility that terrorists are behind these acts of sectarian violence, who have foreign connections and a political agenda to gain power at all costs. It is of particular attention that the US had planned to spark a civil war between the Sunnis and Shias in wake of war on terror. In this context, a study of the Rand Corporation, titled ‘US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11’ was conducted on behalf of the then US Deputy Chief of Staff for Air Force.

The report of the Rand Corporation-a leading think tank, released on December 27, 2004 advocated that Sunni-Shia sectarian division should be exploited to promote the US objectives in the Muslim World. The study indicated that a majority of the world’s Muslims are Sunni, but a significant minority, about 15 percent of the global population is Shias. The report of the Rand Corporation was first implemented in Iraq. In this context, CIA also got the services Mossad and RAW to fuel sectarian violence in Iraq. In 2004, major terror-attacks were conducted against the Shias in Karbala and Baghdad, while US-led some countries accused Iran and Al-Qaeda for the incidents to divert the attention from the said secret agencies. Afterwards, a chain of Shia-Sunni clashes started between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis, targeting each other’s mosques through bomb blasts, suicide attacks, and killings of their religious leaders. The general masses of both the sects, which could not grasp the reality, began to blame each other’s group for the subversive activities.

It is mentionable that some banned religious organizations have claimed responsibility for various sectarian attacks, but it is the game of RAW and CIA which arrange a message for media from an unidentified place in order to divert the attention of people towards these groups, and sometimes towards the Taliban. Otherwise, particularly RAW is well-known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs in Pakistan. Especially, RAW has hired the services of the Indian Muslims who are on its payroll, and these agents have joined the ranks and files of the Taliban and other sectarian groups of Pakistan. Posing themselves as staunch believers, these agents target religious leaders and places of worship in Pakistan with a view to inciting the sentiments of the people of the opponent sect. The main aim behind is to continue sectarian disturbance in Pakistan.

The extremist groups, although not real representatives of their respective communities, have destroyed the very social fabric of the society and jeopardized the peace and security of the country through their terror acts and violent tactics. Suicide attacks on holy places, mosques, shrines etc, religious gatherings and target killings of each other’s religious figures have become common practice of the day. Pakistan has faced varying degrees of religious, ethnic, linguistic, and political problems that are often in conflict with our national interest. To guard against all external as well as internal challenges to the solidarity and security of Pakistan, a well knitted and integrated nation is a must.

No matter how strong the government’s efforts are to manage extremism in the country, it needs cooperation at individual level to attain success. The situation has been well controlled by the security forces whose efforts are commendable, however, in order to minimize the sectarian divide some concrete measures are essentially required to be undertaken by the state of Pakistan. Full protection to all citizens of Pakistan including Shiite community must be provided by the state, and the perpetrators of sectarian violence must be punished severely. Scholars of different sects must act in unison to create inter-sect harmony, and educate people on the significance of inter-sect harmony to prevent polarization in the Pakistani society.
(Aayan Faiz)

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