The Beast of Sectarianism

Photo: K.M. Chaudary/Associated Press

The recent bombing and suicide attack in Lahore and incident of firing in Karachi, on a religious procession is yet another grim reminder of the bloody reign of terror and genocide in Pakistan. Pakistan is facing the monster of terrorism in multiple forms. At present the horrendous acts of terrorism are destroying Pakistan. Pakistan is suffering from many diseases. There exists Islamic militancy, sectarian terrorism, ethno-nationalistic violent divisions and threat to create state within the state. Except, ethnic and nationalistic violence, all diseases are caused by Pakistan’s role in the Afghan ‘Jihad’ which has had a profoundly transformative impact on Pakistan’s politics, society and religion.

Perhaps the most significant domestic consequence of Pakistan’s policies in Afghanistan is the dramatic rise in sectarian violence in the last three decades. This dimension of the growth of radical Islam has been as threatening to Pakistan’s internal cohesion and survival as developments in Afghanistan and the Indian threat. While sectarianism is not a new phenomenon in Pakistan, Zia’s policies and his alliance with particular interpretations of Islam started a phenomenal growth in sectarian organizations in Pakistan, be they Barelvi, Ahmadi or Shia. Deobandi and Ahle Hadith organizations also mushroomed after the institution of the compulsory collection of Zakat and the beginning of the Afghan Jihad. Jihadis as well as Jihad oriented madrassas (religious institutions) were strongly influenced by Wahabi school of thought that grew rapidly in strength in a very short period.

Moreover, Mujahideen returning from Afghanistan were becoming an economic and social challenge for the state domestically, and were fuelling the rise of sectarian violence against Barelvis and Shias within Pakistan, as well as feuding amongst themselves. While it had predominantly characterized the public face of Islam, the lawlessness of militant groups and the rise of an intolerant redefinition of Islam were leading to mounting tensions in our society. The fight against the Barelvis, Ahmadis and Shias was a fight to ‘purify’ Islam from ‘all bad influences’, much as the Taliban had done in Afghanistan. Sectarian violence, fuelled by readily available weapons from Jihad, mushroomed uncontrollably. However, it is pertinent to note that in the private, armed forces or non-political sphere, the Sunni-Shia divide is nearly absent (thank God). 

Along with the growth of anti-Shia militant organizations the reactionary pro-Shia and anti-Sunni militant outfits also exploded. It is a well known fact that most of the anti-Shia organizations had been and are being funded by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia whereas the anti-Sunni organizations have the patronage of Islamic Republic of Iran. United States and India (because of their shared interests) are also not far behind in supporting covertly such organizations in terms of weaponry, funds and logistics.

So, the government and civil society must consider the point that while taking reforms for eliminating societal and sectarian violence real principles of Islam should be presented which are based on peace, tolerance, brotherhood, rights of the weak, wisdom, temperance and elimination of fitna from the society. The Muslim Ummah and particularly Pakistani Muslims must stand united and not be divided into different sects. Difference of opinions must be tolerated and respected No one should be allowed to impose any distorted and extreme interpretation of Islam on anyone at gunpoint. We must say no to fitna which has many ugly shapes and one of them is sectarian violence.


Maha Khan said... [Reply]

How govt can curb the terrorists activities of these banned organistions???Shahbaz Sharif and RanA Sanaullah favoured Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,cz its members took active part during PML N election campaign in Jhung...Shahbaz Sharif said the members of this organisation had the right to vote.

Gul said... [Reply]

Maha you are right.its a matter of shame for us that our politicians are patronizing these gangsters.and what shahbaz sharif sahab is saying depicts their Jihadi or criminal mentality. and yes give them a right to vote.we are living in a so called democracy. give these killers a right to vote and they will vote killers like them.Along with corrupt,shameless and insane people will be sitting these killers and what a scene that will be.

Sujay said... [Reply]

"United States and India (because of their shared interests) are also not far behind in supporting covertly such organizations in terms of weaponry, funds and logistics" - Any proof? or just wild conspiracy theory? I will accept journalism from Associated press, Reuters, CNN, BBC, Times of India, Dawn as legitimate sources. Webster Tarpley and the likes I will not accept.

The whole problem of Pakistan is that it tends to view the source of every problem as having sources outside it's own borders. Anti shia organizations - Saudi did it. Anti sunni organizations - Iran did it. Ethnic violence - Afghan jihadis did it. Pakistan is but naive and gullible, incapable of any wrongs.

While Pakistan as a nation has been quite oppressive towards minorities - take for instance the killing of Ahmadis; The almost certain bombing of shia processions every year; The blasphemy law and many more examples, but yet it always finds a convenient third party to point the problems at. And the third parties are quite obvious too - Israel, India and America.

Although Pakistan has always potrayed itself as a beacon of Islamic countries, calling it's n-bombs "Islamic bombs", and going into war against Israel in the 6 day war, and against USSR in afghanistan. Now let me ask you this one thing, It is an obvious fact that most oil producing nations in the middle east are MUSLIM and RICH. How much has each of these countries contributed to the flood releif in Pakistan? The contribution of Saudi($105m) towards the floods is lesser than the combined contributions of US ($76m) and India ($45m), allegedly the biggest enemies of the state.

Asim said... [Reply]

Another brilliant write up. Excellent observation about the Indian involvement in Pakistan. India is funding shia-sunni violence as well as supplying weapons to TTP and Balaochi insurgents.

floydian said... [Reply]

Hope you are doing fine. Welcome to Weed Media. Thanks for reading and commenting.

"Any proof? or just wild conspiracy theory? I will accept journalism from ... Webster Tarpley and the likes I will not accept."

Pakistan has time and again provided proof of Indian involvement in terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

Dossier of RAW involvement in terror acts in Pakistan was given to Indian PM by the Pakistani PM in sharm el sheikh. Evidence of India’s involvement in Balochistan militancy was also presented in the same document. Voices have been heard time and again in the Indian Congres to bleed Pakistan to knees and teach lesson for Pakistan’s moral support to Kashmir freedom fighters.

India’s RAW have remained actively involved in the formation of different militant and separatist outfits like BRM, BRA and of course the Balochistan Liberation Army. The opening of Indian consulates in Jalalabad and Kadahar has facilitated the Baloch militants and TTP. No wonder Pakistani security agencies have repeatedly seized Indian currency, Indian made mortars, Indian cell batteries, Indian medicines and uncircumcised dead bodies of militants.

You can see the visuals here.

Your approach on the issue is respected but I disagree with it. You approve wiki, cnn, bbc but I disapprove. You ignore Webster Tarpley and the likes but I can’t. But I hope you respect my right to express my opinion.

"The whole problem of Pakistan is that it tends to view the source of every problem as having sources outside it's own borders."

I don’t think so. We openly acknowledge our own follies and shortcomings. We accept that we failed to build democratic institutions. We accept that we are playing far more active role in War on Terror than we should. We accept that we failed to eliminate corruption, lawlessness and poverty. We failed to promote good governance and social sector development. We accept our leniency towards India on India's water terrorism. We accept that draconian laws like blasphemy and hudood ordinance must be repealed. We accept that sometimes our minorities get targeted by handful of orthodox mullahs and their followers (Minorities in India have faced and are facing the worst kind of discrimination and human rights violations). So on and so forth. But Pakistan is situated at one of the most strategic locations in the world and suffering from the games of big powers in this region.

"Pakistan has always potrayed itself as a beacon of Islamic countries, calling it's n-bombs "Islamic bombs", and going into war against Israel in the 6 day war, and against USSR in afghanistan."

Pakistan is a sovereign country and has the right to form its foreign policy. Like it or not, Pakistan has to safeguard its national interests and the interests of the Muslim World. Pakistan has never officially declared its nuclear bomb as an “Islamic bomb”.
But Indian officials, belonging to BJP and RSS, and news editorials, have declared the Indian nuclear bomb as a “Hindu bomb”.

"Now let me ask you this one thing... enemies of the state"

Correct me if I am wrong but I think India has offered &25m. Personally I think it’s a welcome gesture by somewhat confused Indian government.

However, there exists no deadline and the aid is still flowing from all sides. It is too early to be decisive about the numbers.

Pakistanis have sacrificed their blood and economy for War on Terror and is the biggest victim of terrorism. Americans and the world community knows very well (a good sign indeed) that we deserve their support in our difficult times.

Emaan said... [Reply]

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And all these enemies and friends are partying hard in Pakistan. The meeting place of all the bloody bull-dogs.
I have nothing against Indians. I have some of the nicest Indian friends. But sujay, dude. Let me make a sweeping statement as well. When our lovely neighbors like something we say, they go all wah-wah. And when they dislike something we say, they go all haw-hai. Take a relaxer. AP or blogspot, these are still "someone's" views.
I am not going to be all politically correct here and talk the sweet talk. But come on! Who are we bullshitting?! At the end of the day, it is Indian and Pakistani politics we are talking about with USA playing DON. So give me a break.

Sujay said... [Reply]

@floydian - Hey buddy. Thanks for the warm welcome.

I see we disagree on a variety of topics. I could go on and counter each of your arguments, and I am pretty sure you can do the same with mine, and we will keep doing this while the rest of the world moves ahead.

I respect your right to form your own opinions and draw your own conclusions from the sources that you trust. So, the best thing for us would be to Agree on things.

1. Let us agree to disagree on the above discussed topics.
2. I agree with Floyd - in fact they are my favourite band. I have been to two of their shows (Roger Waters) - once in Mumbai and once in Bangalore. My favourite song is "Set the controls for the heart of the sun" and "High Hopes"
3. Legalize the fucking leaf :)

floydian said... [Reply]


You are going freestyle. Couldn't ask for more ;)


2. us and them, have a cigar, shine on u crazy diamond, c.numb, wywh, hey you, money, dogs...and on and on and on (play in loop)

3. whatever, its relentless and kickin

Sujay said... [Reply]

@Emaan - Agreed :)

Sana Tariq said... [Reply]

Great insight here and very fitting title. We will have to wait n see in this issue.