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Pakistan exposed on genocide of Shia community

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The violence on Shia community in Pakistan is no secret. From 2001 to August 2022, over 5000 people from the Shia community have been killed in sectarian violence.

The reason behind the sectarian violence in Pakistan is no secret. The Shia community particularly does not support the so-called jihad in India or Afghanistan. Pakistan's secret agency ISI has persistently mounted its pressure on them to either join the jihad or face the music.

Pakistan exposed on genocide of Shia community

On August 19, 2022 three persons died, and 59 others were injured in a grenade attack on a Shia procession in Bahawalnagar, Punjab (Pakistan). It was the third sectarian attack in the area in two months. Armed sectarian groups, including factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), continue targeting Shia Muslims, including the predominantly Shia ethnic Hazara community. On March 4, 2022, a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite Muslim mosque in Pakistan's north-western city of Peshawar during Friday prayers, leaving 56 worshippers killed and wounding 194 others. Later, the Salafi Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), in a strong position claimed the Peshawar bombing. From 2001 to August 2022, over 5000 people from the Shia community have been killed in sectarian violence.

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The rise of ISKP, having the influence of a hard-line violent protest movement known as Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (Labaik, for short) that draws support from Pakistan's Barelvi majority, has opened a new chapter on sectarian violence against minorities, which till recently was motivated by Deobandi groups. Muslim minorities, particularly Shia, is deeply vulnerable. The ultra-orthodox Sunni groups in Pakistan have targeted to check Shia expressions of faith and interpretations of Islamic history under blasphemy provisions. Many Labaik members support the Sunni concept of excommunicating Muslims whose practices they deem improper targeting Shia. Inspired by ISKP attacks on Shia in Afghanistan, having their Deobandi background, they now launched the core of the Salafi outfit ISKP. In Balochistan, the majority of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives now identify with ISKP.

With the backing of Late General Zia-ul Haq, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was created in Jhang of a Deobandi group under Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi's leadership. Later, General Musharraf banned the SSP in January 2002. But the group soon re-emerged, first as Millat-e-Islamia, and in 2003, as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). Under the leadership of Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, ASWJ continues to help Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Ludhianvi's people would intimidate Shia witnesses against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives during terrorism trial cases. In early August 2011, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi issued a statement declaring all Shias 'wajib-ul-qatal' (fit to be killed). In past, the identity of the killers, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) terrorists had confessed before courts that they have killed Shia and will do it again and again.

According to the CIA World Fact Book and the Middle East Institute, the Shia community is 20 per cent of Pakistan's population which is close to 200 million. The Shia community in Pakistan is spread across the country. Their concentration is found in the Gilgit-Baltistan province in northern Pakistan Kurram Agency (with Parachinar as the capital). All urban cities - Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta- have a sizable Shia population. The Saraiki belt (stretching from southern Punjab to north-western Punjab) hosts a strong Shia base. The Shia community of Pakistan holds the state, especially its security establishment, responsible for its genocide.

In a report presented on 5 September 2022 at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, the International Crisis Group, a research group based in Brussels, has exposed SSP and other groups involved in perpetrating sectarian violence while targeting prominent Shia political activists, attacking Shia religious congregations and killing civilians. It is also mentioned in the report that SSP formed an alliance with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and expanded its support base in Punjab and Karachi. However, the SSP was banned in 2002 but now operates under the name Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ-The People of the Way of the Prophet and the Community).

PML(N) likely to rule Gilgit-BaltistanPML(N) likely to rule Gilgit-Baltistan

It is believed that in the powerful vote bank in Punjab, many politicians do not tackle sectarian violence, instead, support the perpetrators. These groups gaining the support of the state and civil society have gradually started diminishing the image of Pakistan before the international community. Experts say that the more bloodshed, more sectarian division will be heading towards an outbreak of civil war if there is armed retaliation from the Shia community in the near future.

PAKISTAN POPULATION BY ETHNIC GROUPS (2010 EST):

Ethnic groups Name Percent Number
Punjabi 44.68% 90,251,607
Pashtun (Pathan) 15.42% 31,147,712
Sindhi 14.1% 28,481,371
Sariaki 8.38% 16,927,226
Muhajirs 7.57% 15,291,062
Balochi 3.57% 7,211,241
Other 6.28% 12,685,320

(R C Ganjoo is a senior journalist and columnist having more than 30 years experience of covering issues concerning national security, particularly Kashmir. He has worked with several prominent media groups and his articles have been published in many national and international publications.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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