Killing in the name of God: Sectarian violence against Shias rises in Pakistan
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, hundreds of Shias were killed as part of targeted killings in Pakistan
Pakistan is turning into killing fields for Shia and other minority community members. Each day a new seed of hatred is sowed against the community which represents 20 percent of Pakistan’s 212 million population, but has lost an unaccounted number of people in the past few years in the sectarian violence fanned by radicals from the country’s majority community.
Just last month, of the four people who were brutally killed in Karachi, two belonged to Shia, one Ahmadi and a US citizen who had renounced his religion. As per Pakistan-based Centre for Research and Security Studies, 28 Shia community members and two Ahmadis were killed and 58 others were injured in a targeted sectarian violence in 2019. All this happens in the name of God.
Sunni radicals in cahoot with state organs spare no moment to push the minority community members to the walls. In August, around 50 people belonging to the Shia community were booked under draconian blasphemy law on the flimsy, unsubstantiated and evidence-less ground of “insulting the companions of Prophet Mohammad.” In Pakistan, insulting Islam leads to penalising an individual under the fearsome blasphemy law--which ranges from long-term jail to death.
Radical groups like Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan(TLP) and Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamaat(ASWJ) have always been at the forefront in perpetrating targeted violence against minority community members.
Last week thousands of supporters of these radical outfits took to streets in Karachi against the Shia. In the presence of security personnel, supporters of TLP and ASWJ pelted stones at ‘Imambarah’(Shia’s religious place) and went berserk against members of the Shia community, injuring several people in that uncalled for attack.
According to various media reports, since September 11, four big anti-Shia rallies were taken out in Karachi, Pakistan’s financial hub. However, what hurts the international community is Islamabad’s deafening silence over continued anti-minority persecution in the country. More so, it is happening in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ which has time and again tried to malign India at various international forums including the recent United Nations Human Rights Council meet where Pakistan had baselessly accused India for alleged human rights violations in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s founder Ali Jinnah maintained that religion or belief is a personal matter and should not be a basis for differences among citizens.
But trashing such a grand vision, Pakistan is moving ahead with its radical image as a country which is a hub to terrorists and heaven for hardliner Muslims. There are reports which suggest that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party is also inciting sectarian violence by exhorting people to kill those who don’t believe in the finality of Prophet Mohammad.
According to the report ‘We are the walking dead: Killings of Shia Hazara in Balochistan, Pakistan’ by Human Rights Watch, hundreds of Shias were killed as part of targeted sectarian violence against minorities in Pakistan.
“Since 2008, several hundreds of Hazara, a Shia religious community, have been killed in worsening targeted violence, including two bombings in the provincial capital, Quetta, in January and February 2013 that killed at least 180 people” HRW said in the report which documented Sunni militant group attacks on the mostly Shia Hazara community in Balochistan.
Human Rights Watch releasing the report on Shia killings in 2014 said
“Pakistan: Rampant Killings of Shia by Extremists”
Pakistan: Rampant Killings of Shia by Extremists http://t.co/ZISykbKhZl— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) June 30, 2014
Last year, around 20 people were killed in a blast at a Shia Shrine in Hazarganji market in Balochistan. Similarly, in 2012, a blast in Balochistan killed at least 13 members of the Shia community.
In a tweet activist Tarek Fateh in 2014 pointed out a large number of graves of Shia muslims in Pakistan
“These r mass graves of Pakistani Shia killed by Pakistanis. Yet outrage of Pakistanis is directed against Israel. Y?”
These r mass graves of Pakistani Shia killed by Pakistanis. Yet outrage of Pakistanis is directed against Israel. Y? pic.twitter.com/A4jzathDbe— Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) July 12, 2014
According to some reports, children as young as 12 years old in Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh are normally abducted and trained to be suicide bombers. Despite this, the Pakistan government remains quiet.