Why Sectarian Violence Accelerates?
By Sajjad Shaukat
Although Pakistan has been facing various kinds of subversive activities, yet foreign hostile elements have also accelerated sectarian violence as part of their unfinished agenda to destabilise the country.
In the last week of Muharram, several people have been killed and injured in suicide attacks and bomb blasts. Despite the tight security measures, a bomb attack on a procession killed five mourners and wounded more than 80 in Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on November 25 as Shias marked their holiest day Ashura. On day ago, a remote-controlled bomb killed eight people near a Shia procession in the same city. Earlier, 22 people were killed and several injured in Rawalpindi on November 21 when a suicide bomber targeted a Muharram gathering near Imambargah. This terror-event came hours after two bomb blasts occurred in Karachi near Imambargah, which killed three people.
Notably, secret agencies like American CIA, Israeli Mossad and especially Indian RAW are behind sectarian violence in Pakistan, which has been intensified in the past few years. In fact, the US had planned to spark a civil war between the Sunnis and Shias in wake of war on terror. So, we cannot blame these secret agencies without solid evidence.
For the purpose, a study of the Rand Corporation, titled ‘US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11’ was conducted on behalf of the then US Deputy Chief of Staff for Air Force. The report of the Rand Corporation-a leading think tank, released on December 27, 2004 advocated that Sunni-Shia sectarian division should be exploited to promote the US objectives in the Muslim World. It indicated that a majority of the world’s Muslims are Sunni, but a significant minority, about 15 percent of the global population is Shias.
The report of the Rand Corporation was first implemented in Iraq. In this context, CIA also got the services of Mossad and RAW to fuel sectarian violence in Iraq. In 2004, major terror-attacks were carried out against the Shias in Karbala and Baghdad, while US-led some countries accused Iran and Al-Qaeda for the incidents to divert the attention from the said secret agencies. Afterwards, a chain of Shia-Sunni clashes started between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis, targeting each other’s mosques through bomb blasts, suicide attacks, and killings of their religious leaders. The general masses of both the sects, which could not grasp the reality, began to blame each other’s group for the subversive activities.
After Iraq’s experiment, more deadly pattern of sectarian strife and clashes have been conducted in Pakistan.
However, Shia-Sunni sectarian violence has continued unabated. In this respect, 20 people were killed in clashes between the extremist Shias and Sunnis after hand grenade attack on the banned organisaton Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat rally in Gilgit city on April 3, 2012. In another incident, nine people were killed when Gunmen killed nine passengers after offloading them from a bus in Chilas. On February 28, gunmen disguised in military uniform hauled 18 Shias off buses and shot them in the Kohistan region. Otherwise, Gilgit-Baltistan province was considered peaceful but external enemies of Pakistan also enveloped it. 26 Shias were killed on February 17 in a suicide bomb assault in Parachinar. Five persons were gunned down on March 28 when a van carrying people of the Hazara community of Shias was ambushed on Spini Road in Quetta. Recently more people of Hazara community have been targeted by the militants.
The year of 2011 witnessed a number of sectarian events. For instance, on January 25, a suicide bomber struck in the Urdu Bazaar area of Lahore, killing 10 people including a woman and three Policemen. On February 22, a prominent leader of the Shia community was shot dead by the unidentified attackers in the vicinity of Peshawar. On April 3, 51 persons were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the shrine of Sufi Saint Ahmed Sultan in Dera Ghazi Khan. On July 28, a prayer leader of Jamia Albadar mosque, Abdul Karim Mengal, was shot dead by unknown activists in Quetta. In September, 26 Shia pilgrims were killed in Mastung when a group of armed men attacked a passenger bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Quetta to Iran. The main aim behind was to fuel sectarian riots in Balochistan. The banned outfit Lashkar-i-Janghvi claimed responsibility for the attack.
As regards 2010, on September 2, triple blasts killed more than 35 persons in Lahore when miscreants targeted the procession of Shias who were celebrating Hazrat Ali’s day of martyrdom. On the same day, seven people including a police constable were injured in Karachi when terrorists opened fire at the Youm-e-Ali rally. Next day, a deadly suicide attack in Quetta killed more than 55 people who participated in the rally of the Al-Quds Day. On May 28, armed assaults on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore killed more than 70 people. On July 1, in Lahore, more than 45 persons were killed by the two suicide bombers at the Data Darbar.
Similar pattern of attacks have kept on going in 2009. For example, on June 12, a suicide bomber killed five people including anti-Taliban cleric Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi in Lahore.
Like other cities, CIA, Mossad and RAW are behind sectarian terrorism in Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency. Since 2008, intermittent fighting between Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansar-ul-Islam has claimed more than 2500 lives. Lashkar Islami is led by fanatic cleric Mangal Bagh who follows the puritanical Deobandi form of Sunni Islam and has close connections with the extremist Taliban of Afghanistan and Teherik Taliban Pakistan. Besides other areas of Pakistan, more than 3000 people died in sectarian violence in Kurram Agency, bordering Afghanistan. Its areas have been hit by fierce clashes, pitching Sunni Muslims against the minority Shia. A number of ceasefires were concluded between the warring sects with the help of government officials and the tribal Maliks, but the same proved fruitless due to the support of Afghanistan where training centers covertly established by RAW are supervising anti-Pakistan activities with the tactical support of CIA and Mossad.
No doubt, some banned religious organisations have claimed responsibility for various sectarian attacks, but it is the game of RAW and CIA which arrange a message for media from an unidentified place in order to divert the attention of people towards these groups, and sometimes towards the Taliban. Otherwise, particularly RAW is well-known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians, Sikhs, and even Hindus in Pakistan.
RAW has hired the services of the Indian Muslims who have joined the ranks and files of the Taliban and other sectarian groups of Pakistan. Posing themselves as staunch believers, these agents target religious leaders and places of worship in Pakistan to incite the sentiments of the people of the opponent sect.
In this context, Pakistan and Iran have become special target of US-Indo-Israeli plot. It is due to the fact that Pakistan is a declared atomic country, while Iran is determined to continue its peaceful nuclear programme. Therefore, US-led some countries, especially India have been sabotaging Pak-Iranian ties covertly, while sectarian unrest is also part of their game. Notably, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and a Sunni militant group Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which get arms and ammunition from RAW and CIA are responsible for many sectarian assaults on Sunnis and Shias. Besides, their affiliated militant groups kidnapped and killed Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian diplomats. Jundollah conducted many subversive acts in the Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan. And Tehran has directly accused CIA of funding these types of terror attack.
While hinting towards US, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei rightly disclosed, “The bloody actions being committed in Iraq, Pakistan and Iran are aimed at creating a division between the Shias and Sunnis…those who carry out these terrorist actions are directly or indirectly foreign agents.”
At this critical juncture, Pakistan’s religious scholars, especially those of Sunni-Shia sects must create selfless unity among various factions to get rid of extremism and sectarianism. Media must also play its role by emphasising harmony among these sects. This is the only way to cope with external enemies which have accelerated sectarian violence to in our country.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations