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Sectarian violence in Pakistan

Sectarian violence in Pakistan

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Published by irshad ali

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Published by: irshad ali on May 11, 2008
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05/13/2012

 
working "with local sectarian groups" to kill what they perceive as Shi'a apostates, and"foreign powers ... trying to sow discord."
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Background 
Some see a precursor of Pakistani Shia-Sunni strife in the April 1979 execution of deposedPresidentZulfiqar Ali Bhuttoon questionable charges by Islamic fundamentalist GeneralMuhammad Zia ul-Haq.Ali Bhutto was Shia, Zia ul-Haq a Sunni.
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The "Islamization" of General Zia ul-Haq that followed was resisted by Shia who saw it as"Sunnification" as the laws and regulations were based on Sunni fiqh. In July 1980, 25,000Shia portested the Islamization laws in the capitalIslamabad. Further exacerbating thesituation was the dislike between Shia leader Khomeini and General ul-Haq.Shia formed student assocations and a Shia party, Sunni began to form sectarian militiasrecruited fromDeobandiandAhl-i Hadith madrasahs. Preaching against the Shia in Pakistan was radical clericIsrar Ahmed.Muhammad Manzour Numani, a senior Indiancleric with close ties to Saudi Arabia published a book entitled ``Iranian Revolution: ImamKhomeini and Shiism.
The book, which "became the gospel of  Deobandimilitants" in the1980s, attacked Khomeini and argued the excesses of the Islamic revolution were proof that Shiism was not the doctrine of misguided brothers, but beyond the Islamic pale.
 Anti-Shia groups in Pakistan include theLashkar-i-JhangviandSipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, offshoots of theJamiat Ulema-e-Islam(JUI). The groups demand the expulsion of all Shiasfrom Pakistan and have killed hundreds of Pakistani Shias between 1996 and 1999.
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As inIraq they "targeted Shia in their holy places and mosques, especially during times of communal prayer." From January to May 1997, Sunni terror groups assassinated 75 Shiacommunity leaders "in a systematic attempt to remove Shias from positions of authority."Lashkar i Jhangvihas declared Shia to be `American agents` and the `near enemy` in global jihad.
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Birth of Religious Extremism
Religious extremism began in earnest during the second jihad which was the extension of the Afghan jihad against the Soviets to Kashmir as a low-intensity conflict with India after 1989. The first jihad had empowered the Jamaat Islami and its Pushtun leader, QaziHussain Ahmad. The sojourn of the Afghan jihadi leaders in Peshawar had begun a crucible
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 Nasr, Vali,
The Shia Revival,
Norton, (2006), p.89
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Rashid,
Taliban
(2000), p.194
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Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Secterian voilance in Pakistan.
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 process with the help of Saudi money. The High Church Afghans mixed with the localDeobandi consensus and tacitly agreed to oppose the Low Church trends in Pakistan. It wasa 'hard' Islam Pakistanis knew nothing about. It came mixed with the even tougher tribalcode called Pushtunwali that the 'settled' Pushtuns of Pakistan had gradually forgotten evenin the Tribal Areas. The presence of the Arabs - especially the Egyptian runaways like AlZawahiri acted to further radicalise local Islam with salafi ideals overlaid with Qutbiteconcept of the jahiliyya violence.
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The Deobandi seminaries became powerful on receiving their share of Zakat from thegovernment of General Zia. After 1989, the empowerment of the Deobandis took upmomentum as the jihad in Kashmir was restricted to Deobandis and Ahle Hadith. Thesurrender of internal sovereignty to these militias happened first in the NWFP and theTribal Areas; it later extended to a number of cities in Punjab and, in particular Karachi,where the centre of the Deobandi consensus emerged at the Banuri Complex of seminaries.Increasingly the youth joining the jihad were made conscious of the fact that somehowPakistan had not enforced true Islam and that Pakistanis were living like infidels. Moreanimus was shown towards the Shia community and to some extent the Ismailis.
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According to a report by Islamabad's Institute of Policy Studies, Pakistan has 6,761religious seminaries where over a million young men are taking religious training. TheMinistry of Religious Affairs has given out similar numbers in its report. But Herald(November 2001) says: 'According to the Interior Ministry, there are some 20,000 madrasasin the country with nearly 3 million students'. In 1947, West Pakistan had only 245seminaries. In 1988, they increased to 2,861. Between 1988 and 2000, this increase comesout to be 136 percent. The largest number of seminaries are Deobandi, at 64 percent,followed by Brelvi, at 25 percent. Only 6 percent are Ahle Hadith. But the increase in thenumber of Ahle Hadith seminaries or madrasas has been phenomenal, at 131 percent, goingup from 134 in 1988 to 310 in 2000. Out of the total number of youth taking religioustraining in the seminaries, 15 per cent are foreigners. Among the Ahle Hadith, there are 17organisations active in Pakistan, looking after their own seminaries. Out of them, sixactually take part in politics, three take part in jihad, and three are busy spreading their mazhab or school of thought. They are all puritans who do not follow the state fiqh and arealso called wahabi. Most of them follow the lead of the ulema of Saudi Arabia and receiveassistance from rich Saudi citizens.
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The grand Deobandi alliance is probably the biggest force in Pakistan after the state'sarmed forces.
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Based in Karachi, the Banuri Complex housed leaders that sat in the shurasof the various Deobandi jihadi militias. Its religious scholars sat in the shura of SipahSahaba as well as the shura of the two militias, Harkatul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Muhammad. The Deobandi leaders think nothing of issuing fatwas of death againstforeigners coming to Pakistan on business. It is these fatwas in part that caused the
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Khaled M. Abou El Fadl, The Conference of the Books: The Search for Beauty in Islam, (University Press of America, 2003).
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Daily Khabrain Lahore (22 March 2003) published a brief biographical note on late Allama Ehsan Elahi Zaheer of Jamiat Ahle Hadith who was killed by a bomb on 23 March 1987 in Lahore near Qila Lachchman Singh. Along withhim four other Ahle Hadith scholars had also died.
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Muhammad Amir Rana, Jihad Kashmir wa Afghanistan: Jihadi Tanzimun aur Mazhabi Jamaton ka aik Jaeza,(Mashal Books Lahore, 2002).
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John K. Cooley, Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, (Pluto Press London, 1998).
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