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Friday, December 16, 2011

Pakistan’s rampant sectarian violence

By Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud Dec 17, 2011 2:10AM UTC

A horrific video has been surfaced on Jihadi forums purportedly showing murdering of ethnic Hazara Shias in Mastung area of Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The victims were shown being dragged down from a passenger bus by a group of masked armed militants who latterly forced them to sit in a row. The assailants then opened indiscriminate firing on them, killing all of them on the spot. A jihadi tarana (Jihadi motivational song) can be heard in the back ground.

The incident originally took place nearly three months ago when a bus of Hazara Shias pilgrims came under attack on September 20, killing 26 passengers, while carrying them for pilgrimage of Shia Muslims holiest places in Iran.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned militant anti-Shia outfit, having deep links with Al-Qaeda and other regional Sunni militant organizations, latterly claimed responsibility for the attack in telephonic calls to local media outlets. The group with its lethal suicide squad is believed to be responsible for orchestrating numerous deadly attacks against Shias across Pakistan. The group was also accused by the Afghan authorities for the recent scarce twin attacks against minority Shias in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif on 10th of Muharram.

Sectarian violence has been bedeviling Pakistan since late 70s when two epic developments started taking place in the region; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Khomeini led radical Shia revolution in Iran. Since then, thousands of both Shias and Sunnis have lost their lives in Pakistan.

Situation got deteriorated when Iran and Saudi Arabia, settling scores with each other on ideological grounds, stared patronizing their respective ideological proxies. These groups were nurtured by both the countries in order to deter each other influence in Pakistan.

Quetta, provincial capital of Pakistan’s largest province Balochistan, has seen some worst incidents of sectarian violence in recent past. Hundreds of Hazaras, predominantly Shias, have been killed in series of bomb blasts and targeted killings in Quetta and its suburbs.

Dramatically, sectarian violence got escalated when Mushraf regime imposed a ban on militants sectarian organizations hailing both from Sunni and Shia school of thoughts in 2001 and then in 2002. The steps taken by the authorities to curb this menace seem futile so far.

Asian Correspondent

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