Killing in the name of God as sectarian violence is on the rise in Pakistan as authorities cosset and back hellbent Islamic Sunni radicals.
Pakistan is reeling under a new surge of sectarian violence targeting Shiite and other religious minorities across the country, threatening new rounds of instability in the Muslim majority nation.
The rising trend is being fueled by foreign backed agencies, state organs and authorities who cosset and align with radicals bent on violence instead of upholding their duty to protect marginalized communities.
Over 96% of Pakistanis practice Islam, of which anywhere between 75-95% of adherents are Sunni. Shiites comprise somewhere between 5-15% of all Muslims while Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis combined make up around 3% of the population.
Over the last month, four people including two Shiite Muslims, one Ahmadi sect member and a US citizen who renounced the Ahmadi sect have been brutally gunned down for apparent religious reasons.
Over the same period, people mostly belonging to the Shiite sect were booked under draconian sections – namely 295-A and 298 – of the blasphemy law as defined under the Pakistan penal code for allegedly “insulting the companions of Prophet Muhammad.
Thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) Islamic group activists took to the streets last week in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi against the minority.
The participants shouted “Shia kafir”, or “Shiite unbelievers”, and demanded the government impose a new ban on Shiite religious processions in the city.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government is suppressing religious violence by exhorting people not to kill those who negate the finality of the prophet Muhammad.
Islam is Pakistan’s official state religion but other faiths are protected under the constitution. Last month, Amnesty International earned the government’s ire by condemning the alarming rise in blasphemy accusations across the country.
Last year, dozens of people were killed in sectarian violence, but the state failed to apprehend any of the zealots involved in the attacks on minorities.
Pakistani think tank Center for Research and Security Studies’ Annual Security Report 2019 shows that 28 Shiite and two Ahmadis were killed in targeted attacks, while 58 others were injured in related violence.
The report claims that there have been at least five attacks on Ahmadi places of worship since August 2018 – two at Hindu temples and one at a Christian church.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point Religious News 2020.