The violence against the Shiite community in Pakistan is no secret. From 2001 to August 2022, more than 5000
members of the Shia community have been killed in sectarian violence.
BY RC GANJOO
They drive cabs in the wee hours of the morning, run 7/11 franchises and herd scattered carts from supermarkets, among a long list of arduous tasks. But they also have
teaching in schools and universities, carrying out mega engineering projects, saving lives in hospitals and caring for the sick in medical centers, managing information
technology in large companies, showcasing the best of cuisines in Indian restaurants and owning micro, medium and large companies in Australia. Indian
the diaspora has entered business, politics, justice, government, civil society, academia, science, performing arts and sports codes. According
the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2021 census 783,958 people declared their Indian ancestry, constituting 3.1% of Australia’s population. They
are the second biggest contributors and easily outnumber their Australian counterparts in stadiums during the Border-Gavaskar series.
The reason for sectarian violence in Pakistan is no secret. The Shia community in particular does not support the so-called jihad in India or
Afghanistan. The Pakistani secret agency ISI constantly pressured them to join jihad or face the music.
On August 19, 2022, three people died and 59 others were injured in a grenade attack on a Shiite motorcade in Bahawalnagar, Punjab (Pakistan). It was
the third sectarian attack in the region in two months. Armed sectarian groups, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and ISIS-Khorasan factions
(ISIS-K), continue to target Shia Muslims, including the predominantly Shia Hazara community. On March 4, 2022, a suicide bomber attacked a Shia
Muslim mosque in the city of Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan during Friday prayers, killing 56 worshipers and injuring 194 others. Later, the Salafists
The Khorasan province of the Islamic State (ISKP), in a position of strength, claimed responsibility for the attack in Peshawar. From 2001 to August 2022, more than 5,000 people from the Shiite community
community were killed in sectarian violence.
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Rushdie’s attack had shown sympathy for Shiite extremism
The rise of the ISKP, under the influence of a violent and radical protest movement known as Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (Labaik, for short) which attracts support
of Pakistan’s Barelvi majority, opened a new chapter in sectarian violence against minorities, which until recently was motivated by Deobandi groups.
Muslim minorities, particularly Shiites, are deeply vulnerable. Ultra-Orthodox Sunni groups in Pakistan aim to control Shia expressions of faith and
interpretations of Islamic history under the blasphemy provisions. Many Labaik members support the Sunni concept of excommunicating Muslims whose
practices they deem inappropriate targeting Shiites. Inspired by the ISKP attacks on Shias in Afghanistan, having their Deobandi origin, they have now launched the
heart of the Salafist group ISKP. In Balochistan, the majority of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operatives now identify with the ISKP.
With the support of the late General Zia-ul Haq, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was established in Jhang by a Deobandi group under Maulana Haq Nawaz.
The management of Jhangvi. Later, General Musharraf banned the SSP in January 2002. But the group soon resurfaced, first as Millat-e-Islamia, then in 2003 as
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ). Under the leadership of Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, ASWJ continues to help Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. At Ludhianvi
people intimidated Shia witnesses against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi agents during terrorism trials. Early August 2011, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
issued a statement declaring all Shia ‘wajib-ul-qatal’ (fit to be killed). In the past, the identity of the killers, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) terrorists had
confessed in court that they had killed Shia and would do it again and again.
According to the CIA World Fact Book and the Middle East Institute, the Shia community represents 20% of the Pakistani population, or nearly 200
million. The Shia community in Pakistan is spread across the country. Their concentration is in the province of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan
Kurram Agency (with Parachinar as its capital). All the urban cities – Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta – have a large Shia population. The Saraiki
belt (which stretches from South Punjab to North West Punjab) is home to a strong Shia base. Pakistan’s Shia community holds the state, especially its
security establishment, responsible for its genocide.
In a report presented on September 5, 2022 to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, the International Crisis Group, a
Brussels-based research group, exposed the SSP and other groups involved in perpetrating sectarian violence while targeting Shia political figures
militants, attacking Shia religious congregations and killing civilians. It is also mentioned in the report that the SSP has formed an alliance with 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 Prophet’s Way People and Community).
It is believed that in Punjab’s powerful vote bank, many politicians do not address sectarian violence, but rather support the perpetrators. These groups
gaining support from the state and civil society gradually began to tarnish Pakistan’s image in the international community. Experts say
that the more bloody and sectarian division will be heading towards an outbreak of civil war if there is armed retaliation from the Shia community in the
COURTESY OF: ONEINDIA
(RC Ganjoo is a senior journalist and columnist with over 30 years of experience in covering national security issues, especially
Cashmere. He has worked with several leading media groups and his articles have appeared in numerous national and international publications.)