Sectarianism is a real threat to Pakistan security. It has created ferocity, unrest and disorder in the
Society. Sectarianism is a bitter problem which is facing by the Muslim Ummah since the last three decades. It causes suicide bombings, bomb blasts, assassinations, target killings and terrorist attacks. The sectarian fight has threatened Pakistan economically, sociologically, and politically. Contemporary, there is a need to adopt multiple ways for the progress and prosperity of the country. All the provinces need to think being a Pakistani not like a Sunni, Shia, Deobandi, Ahl-i-Hadith, Qadiani and Mirzai, then no one can harm the unity and the nation. I have mentioned in my research, internal and external factors with various policies recommendations to overcome the sectarian hindrance.
Keywords: Sectarianism, Pakistan’s Sectarianism Internal and External Factors, Policy Recommendations.
Sectarianism is not a new phenomenon. It has been present in every society since the dawn of human history. Pakistan is the main victims of sectarianism, which has been a major obstacle in the way of national integration. Before going into detail, it is necessary to know what is sectarianism?
The world sectarianism is derived from “sect”, which means people have diverse views within same religion. In sociological studies sect is the religious study which means a group split from the mainstream religion on the grounds of principle. (Bryan Wilson 1982). Sectarianism means adherence to a particular sect or party, especially in a biased or narrow-minded manner. Sectarianism creates violence in a multiple society like Pakistan. The reason is that people of different ideologies stick to their beliefs and do not compromise with others (Andrew Feenberg 1983). In sectarianism an individual or group adhere to a particular sect or religion, develops the feeling of self-righteousness and adopts an attitude of intolerance towards other sects of the same religion (Andrew Feenberg 1983). The oxford English dictionary in 1961 defines sectarianism as; normally when a group of people holds definite point of views different from others within the same religion. This word is mostly used for a “distinct orderly religious group of people having its own specific name and places of worship”.
The main purpose of this study is to explore How deep sectarianism is rooted in Pakistani society? how sectarianism is threatening Pakistan’s security? Further it describes the role of different religious groups in sectarian violence and how these groups use religion for their own interest? It also elaborates external and internal factors of sectarianism and its implications for national and human security and how it threatens national and human security of Pakistan? There are also conclusionary remarks with some applicable solutions for improving and understanding, how-to live-in peace in country like Pakistan having multiple sects.
BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION
Sectarianism in Pakistan is the most destabilizing factor for the country’s social, political, religious, and security order. It has caused violence, disorder, and unrest in society. From last 30 years onwards, the society has seen number of suicide attacks, bomb blasts, assassination and terrorist attacks as the result of sectarian conflict. The government sometimes abuse the sectarian issue for political purpose which divides the society on the basis of sects, which is a grave threat to the stability of country The Shia populations constitute 15-20% of the population in Pakistan while Sunni’s are in majority. They were having smooth relation with Shias in the early 1980s. Both communities lived in peace and in unity when a chain of events created sectarian violence. If we look into the past, in 1974 the anti-Ahmadi movements were started, while they were declared as non-Muslim by the parliaments of Pakistan. Sectarian conflicts are as old as the country itself but the intensification of these conflicts was observed in the late 1970s and in the early 1980s. Due to internal political changes, Islamic revolution in Iran and reaction of the Arab World give birth to sectarianism in Pakistan.
SECTARIANISM IN PAKISTAN
Adherents of Islam constitute the world’s second largest religious group. According to a study in 2015, Islam has 1.8 billion adherents, making up about 24% of the world population. Most Muslims in Pakistan are either of two denominations: Sunni (80-90%,) or Shia (10–20%, roughly). others such as ismailis 2%, Ahmediyas 2%, Barelvis 50%, Deobandis 20%, Ahle Hadith 4%, and other minorities 4%.
The Sunni and Shia sects are further divided into Sub-sects. Shia sects consist of, such as the Ismailis, the Bohras and the Ithna Asharis (Twelvers). Sunnis sects comprise such groups as the Sufi-inspired Barelvi, the Deobandi, and the Wahabi-like Ahl-e-Hadith. Sectarian quarrel is not only found among the Muslims in Pakistan; it also exists in all other religions of the world. Attacks in major cities of Pakistan like Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore Islamabad Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) appear as result of division between Sunnis and Shias. Since the last three decades Sunni and Shia extremists from both groups have attacked each other all over Pakistan.
Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies? annual report on Pakistan’s national security in 2010 clearly shows that the incidents and violence of terrorism decreased in Pakistan during 2010, but there was an increase in sectarian and ethnic violence. Frequent clashes between Shias and Sunnis left hundred dead and thousand injured across the country. One estimate suggest that sectarian violence took 994 lives between 1990 and 2000, 60 percent of them were Shia’s. A government estimate suggests that 1,149 persons were killed in 461 incidents between 1997 and 2006, of whom 773 were Shias (67 per cent) and 376 were Sunnis.
Condition in Punjab:
Sectarian violence is not new phenomenon in Pakistan particularly in Punjab, which has been a breeding ground of antagonism between Sunni and Shia for decades. In 1990s, hundreds were killed in Sunni-Shia sectarian violence. 422 lives were lost in 395 sectarian incidents in the province of Punjab alone between 1990 and 1997 The sectarian conflict in Sargodha, Sahiwal, Lahore, Multan, Vehari, Sialkot, Jhang and Bahawalpur worsen the situation in Punjab. In the year 1998, 150 persons were killed, 25 in one incident in Lahore’s Mominpura graveyard during a funeral, and 15 in others. In 2008 alone, 30 killed and 40 wounded in D.I. Khan and 25 and 60 respectively in Bhakkar.
In Jhang the rise of a particular type of Deobandi flare the condition. People like Haq Nawaz Jhangvi and his successors, who claimed Shias as non-Muslims, causing violence and hatred in people’s mind. The antagonistic associations in Jhang known as Syed’s and Sials is counted as a considerable reason. They violated and provoked the sectarian conflicts in Jhang for local political benefit. The early 1990s represented a peak in number of incidents (especially in Jhang), with further peaks in 1994 and again in 1997/8. As Jhang was the hub of countless sectarian killings, they spread violence to other areas of Punjab and outside.
Condition in Baluchistan:
Sectarian violence is not limited to Punjab only. Baluchistan was a peaceful place where people of different sects live together for centuries. Being adjacent to Afghanistan and Iran, this area was influenced by the Afghan Jihad and Islamic Revolution of Iran. The last few years there were lot of killing of innocent people in sectarian violence and ethnic conflicts. In 2005 fifty-three were assassinated and fifty-seven were wounded in a terrorist attack on a mosque of Shia, during the Friday prayer. Earlier, on 8th June, thirteen individuals of the police who were trainers were assassinated and eight were wounded in Quetta. This event in Quetta shows an aspect of sectarian violence in Pakistan. Quetta being adjacent to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province has been viewed as the terrorist center. Quetta is among those cities where Shia population is the largest in the Province.
Uprising of Baluch militants against the state took a new turn in the sectarian violence in this Province. Several groups are working independently for militancy and sectarian violence. It is impossible to separate militant groups from sectarian groups.
Condition in Sindh:
Similarly, Karachi the largest city of Pakistan and the capital of Sindh is the hub of different kind of sectarian groups. Sectarian extremists are trained at Madrassas of Sunni and Shia. In Karachi political violence has existed before. In the mid-1990s, Shia Sunni violence also grew through the network of Madrassas. Up till now, over than five hundred people were assassinated in these sectarian attacks. According to Taj Haider, who is the central information secretary of Pakistan People’s Party and also a former Senator, “Terrorists and their mafias need the cover of sectarian, linguistic and political organizations. Terrorists of a certain organization slide into another when their original organization comes under pressure”. The US journalist Daniel Pearl was also assassinated in Karachi.
Condition in KPK:
KPK is progressively a geographic and ideological hub of sectarianism is also in case in hand. Being on the border of Afghanistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), has faced a social and political shift for the past thirty years into conservative and confrontational religion. The rise in sectarian killing started in 1992 when 15 people were killed in Peshawar during Ashura procession. Into response the Shia burnt tires of vehicles, looted banks, and damaged the public property. In 2008 alone, 20 people were killed in a bomb attack on an imambargah in Peshawar, 1,000 killed and wounded in Kurram tribal agency, six dead in Hangu and two in Kohat.
There are certain parts of Pakistan where the Shia population is large in numbers, like in the tribal agency of Kurram where they constitute 80% of total population. In Gilgit in the Northern areas, they constitute 60% of the population. Most of sectarian violence is noticed in these areas of KPK.