Karachi attack: Who are the Ismaili Shias?

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The attack at Karachi in which over 40 persons were gunned down is probably one of the worst sectarian clashes the country has seen.

While the Pakistan establishment is mum about who could be behind the attack in the wake of both the Tehrik-e-Taliban and the ISIS making a claim, it can be said for now that the target were the Ismaili Shias.


Pakistan has been extremely cautious while committing itself to the Saudis in the war at Yemen.

In Yemen, the Pakistanis would have had to target the Shia Houthi rebels and had they gone into that war they would have witnessed unbearable sectarian clashes back at home.

Who are the Ismaili Shias and what do the Sunnis have against them? This is turning out to be a bloody battle with the Sunnis mindlessly targeting the Shias across the world.

Who are the Ismaili Shias?

The Ismaili Shias are spread across the Middle East, Europe, Egypt, Pakistan, Africa, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. This sect called the Ismaili Shias are an off shoot of the Shias.

The Ismaili Shias believe that the succession line within Islam is very much present and they recognize Aga Khan the 4th as the spiritual leader.

There are around 20 to 25 million Sunnis worldwide and they have repeatedly been the target of the Sunnis. Moreover groups such as the ISIS and the al Qaeda have taken it upon themselves to battle against the Shias and would do everything to target them anywhere.

Living in fear

The Ismaili Shias are a small group of people. In Saudi there are reports that they live in fear. In Pakistan where there is a small group of them lived in a gated community and never venture out in the open freely.

Even when they move around they do so in a group. They go out together and very often their trips to religious places are organized.

They have been high on the radar of terrorist groups such as the ISIS and the al Qaeda and the Karachi attack is only a testimony to this fact.

There had been reports in the past that the Ismaili Shias would be targeted in Pakistan and the Karachi attack only confirmed that.

For the ISIS this is a major attack

Although none within the Pakistani establishment had clarified who is behind this attack, there was a note that was left by the ISIS taking responsibility for the same. The note was found a few hours after the Tehrik-e-Taliban too made a similar claim.

There has been talk in Paksitan that the ISIS is making its presence felt. Such an attack would be an ideal announcement for the ISIS before it moves on to bigger things in Pakistan. The main agenda of the ISIS is to promote their Afghan based outfit the Al-Khorasan.

Terrorist groups normally tend to announce themselves with a major attack and the ISIS could have being doing just that in Karachi. Many would argue whether the ISIS being new to Pakistan could have carried out such a major attack.

However the ISIS has the support of several splinter groups in the region and they add up to being a formidable force. There are splinter factions that were created after the TTP split and these persons have joined hands with the ISIS.

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