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Religious Militancy
and Sectarian Violence
in Pakistan

Title: The Unholy War: Religious Militancy and Sectarian Violence in Pakistan
Author: Zaigham Khan

All rights reserved. Any part of this publication may be reproduced or translated
by duly acknowledging the source.

First published September 2004
ISBN 969-8807-13-6

This publication was made possible with support provided by
The Asia Foundation and the U.S. Agency
for International Development. The opinions expressed
here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of
The Asia Foundation or the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Cover designed by Abdul Hameed
Layout by Madiha Sandhu
Printed in Pakistan by Khursheed Printers (Pvt) Limited, Islamabad

Published by
Centre for Democratic Governance
The Network for Consumer Protection
40-A Ramzan Plaza, G-9 Markaz, Islamabad, PAKISTAN

Executive Summery 1

From Religion to Politics to Violence 4

Seeds of Decay 11
Madressah Factor
Foreign Influence
Role of the State
Social and Economic Factors
Weak Criminal Justice System
Lack of Democratic Governance

Jihad at Home 18

Allah's Army 24
Case Study

Life after 9/11 28

Conclusions and Recommendations 31

Notes and References 34
Fifty seven years ago, when the people of Pakistan won independence from the British, they awaited a
great metamorphosis. From being the subjects of a powerful and brutal empire, they were to become citizens
of a free country, a homeland that was to be shaped by their dreams and aspirations. Independence, however,
soon turned into a "false dawn" and people realized that it meant little more than a change of masters. The
promise of equitable development and democratic rule in the country has eluded the people ever since, with
the ruling elite faithfully sticking to its colonial mindset and methods of subjugation.
As the world discovers the importance of good governance in solving some of the most pressing problems
confronting the developing world, the civil society in Pakistan is also increasing its involvement with key pub-
lic issues. It is cognizant of the fact that meaningful development effort must pay attention to issues of public
policy, governance and citizen's rights. Moreover, "good politics" must precede and reinforce good governance.
This paper is eleventh in the series of publications intended to contribute to the larger civil society strug-
gle for realizing the cherished dream of development and democracy. These publications are aimed at raising
people's awareness on vital political, social and economic issues. They seek to break the silence, ignite public
debate and open a serious dialogue, thereby strengthening the demand for democracy and good governance.
The paper systematically explores the dynamics of religious militancy and sectarian violence in Pakistan,
explaining the interplay of various factors at the heart of this menace. It aptly recalls Pakistan's birth amidst a
communal bloodbath and its violence-ridden history: the carnage in former East Pakistan, ethnic slaughters in
Karachi, military operations in Balochistan and Sind, and now the Wana operation. The last two decades have
witnessed a marked surge in sectarian violence that has no end in sight. Recent 'quid-pro-quo' bomb blasts in
Shia and Sunni mosques remind us of this painful reality.
Even though religio-political parties in Pakistan have a long tradition of political and social activism, it
was only in the 1980s that certain groups and factions got radicalized, militarized and ultimately turned to sec-
tarian violence - that assumed a logic and cyclic momentum of its own. The military and its agencies used reli-
giously motivated youth, both conventional and madressah-educated volunteers, for their own specific ends,
with devastating consequences for peace and security of the society at large.
Not only domestic but also regional and international factors coalesced promoting religious militancy and
igniting sectarian violence in its present form. In the aftermath of 9/11, a clash of fundamentalisms between
radical Muslims and influential Jewish-Christian-Corporate lobbies has further aggravated this situation.
The learned author, Mr. Zaigham Khan, a renowned commentator in the field, puts together a wealth of
information and valuable insights into this paper. His recommendations include domestic measures including
rule of law. However, they also point to the need for democratic reforms and human rights in the mostly author-
itarian Muslim states, as well as just resolution of the festering Muslim issues around the world that fuel Mus-
lim rage and militancy. The paper should be of interest to both policymakers and concerned citizens in com-
prehending this crucially important issue confronting Pakistan.
I appreciate the partnership and support of The Asia Foundation for this project, and hope that it will mark
the beginning of a long association. The project team led by Zaigham Khan has done a commendable job and
I congratulate him and his project colleagues, Raja Ehsan Aziz, Mohammad Najeeb, Haniya Aslam, M.Y. Khan
and Madiha Sandhu. We are also thankful to SDDP (Supporting Democratic Development in Pakistan) project
partners who contributed in the initial discussions that brought clarity to our efforts.

Dr. Zafar Mirza
Executive Coordinator
The Network for Consumer Protection
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

Executive Summary

The areas now constituting political groups have undergone a
Pakistan have witnessed large- metamorphosis, changing them
scale violence over the past three beyond recognition. This change
centuries. Emergence of Pakistan includes a mushroom growth in

accompanied one of the worst their numbers and a changed
communal bloodbaths in history. worldview linked to a rising trend Religious
Post-independence Pakistan con- of militancy. Except for JI, almost
fronted ethno-regional tensions all Islamic parties and groups in extremism in
and violence, culminating in a bru-
tal civil war that led to the separa-
Pakistan are based on some spe-
cific sect, sub-sect or school of
tion of East Pakistan and a humili- thought. As a result, a sectarian is primarily
ating military defeat in 1971. party is the prototype of Islamic
In earlier years of Pakistan, organization today. home-grown, even
religious violence was largely con-
fined to a few anti-Qadiani inci-
Madressahs are an important
religio-social institution in Pak-
though significantly
dents. Shia-Sunni violence was istan that provide free education, strengthened through
unheard of, except for occasional boarding and lodging to children
tension during Muharram proces- from mostly underprivileged fami- extended foreign
sions. However, religious violence
in the present form is a new phe-
lies, besides orphans and desti-
tutes. The number of madressahs
support. In 1980s,
nomenon that started in the 1980s. in Pakistan increased from around Saudi Arabia
Underlying this violence are sev- 700 in both East and West Pakistan
eral complex factors that include after independence to 3,874 in the supported Sunni
the Iranian revolution, military
takeover by Gen. Zia, his Islamiza-
whole country in 1995. In 2002,
more than 5,000 madressahs were
extremists while Iran
tion agenda, Afghan jihad against supposedly functioning in Pak- supported Shia
the Soviets (including Western - istan.
particularly American and the oil- Only a small number of groups in the
rich Arab - particularly Saudi back-
ing of Afghan jihad), Kashmiri
madressahs are directly involved in
religious militancy, but their influ-
backdrop of Islamic
uprising, and Pakistan's involve- ence on the state of religious vio- revolution and the
ment in the second jihad in Kash- lence in the country is enormous.

mir. Most of the religious militants Iran-Iraq war.
Organizations involved in come from madressah background
religious violence can be broadly and their violent actions are rooted
categorized as religio-political in indoctrination at these madras-
groups, though only a small num- sahs.

ber of these groups are directly Religious extremism in Pak-
involved in acts of violence. In the istan is primarily home-grown,
last two decades, however, religio- even though significantly strength-
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

ened through extended foreign immunity to militant organizations
support. In 1980s, Saudi Arabia involved in Kashmir. In mid-
supported Sunni extremists while nineties, when the government
Iran supported Shia groups in the resolved to move decisively
backdrop of Islamic revolution and against sectarian groups in Pak-
the Iran-Iraq war. Alleged involve- istan, it was still supporting Sunni

ment of Iranian diplomats in Pak- extremists operating in
istan's sectarian politics and their Afghanistan and Kashmir.
The state in patronage of Shia groups made In order to control religious
them prime targets of Sunni violence and sectarian militancy,
Pakistan has often extremists. Arabs, on the other there is a need to go beyond law
hand, mostly supported Sunni and order solution and tackle their
exploited ethnic and extremists through generous fund- root causes - which are numerous
ing. and multi-faceted, including social
sectarian divisions to The situation further compli- and economic causes. Generally,
cated after the Taliban came to ethnic and religious strife worsen
serve its limited power in Afghanistan. Pakistan's
Sunni extremist organizations
during dictatorships, whereas
democracy is considered a pre-req-
interests. Military gained newfound strength from
their mutually supportive Taliban
uisite for enduring internal peace.
In essence, a well functioning
connection. Some of the most democracy can work as a non-vio-
rulers and secret wanted sectarian terrorists from lent form of internal conflict man-
Pakistan found ready refuge in Tal- agement.
services are iban-controlled Afghanistan. Due to absence of democracy
Meanwhile, both Indian intelli- in much of the Muslim world,
particularly blamed for gence agencies have often been legitimate channels of dissent are
blamed for supporting cross-border denied. Consequently, people turn
fomenting religious dif- terrorism. to violence as a means of opposi-
The state in Pakistan has often tion to authoritarian regimes that
ferences and using reli- exploited ethnic and sectarian divi-
sions to serve its limited interests.
lack legitimacy. Civil society and
political forces must struggle
gious militancy for Military rulers and secret services
are particularly blamed for foment-
together for democratic transition
and establishing democratic cul-
ing religious differences and using ture in Pakistan and other Muslim
internal and foreign religious militancy for internal and countries.

foreign policy objectives. Political Sometimes states manipulate
policy objectives. governments have also formed people's religious sentiments to
alliances of convenience with serve narrow political ends, disre-
extremist sectarian organizations. garding long-term consequences.
Thus Benazir Bhutto government In this regard, Pakistan's establish-
entered into an alliance with the ment has hard lessons to learn from
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) its use of religion to serve short-

and even dished out a provincial sighted foreign policy objectives.
ministry to an SSP leader. Recent upsurge of religious
The state has been providing violence is directly related to Mus-
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

lim outrage against perceived increases the risk of violent con-
injustices perpetrated on fellow- flict between dissenting groups.
Muslims around the world. A last- The Afghan war, Darra Adam Khel
ing solution to religious violence arms bazaar and free flowing arms
requires just and expeditious solu- in tribal areas has led to small arms
tions to all these problems. Muslim proliferation throughout Pakistan.
governments and organizations Both supply and demand of
must vigorously pursue these weapons need to be effectively

issues and extend political and checked.
humanitarian support to oppressed Hollywood thrillers and Research centres in
Muslims. The international com- American soap operas have
munity is also obliged to ensure become increasingly popular with conflict resolution can
justice to Muslims. Lest this is our youth. These genres are
done, excesses against Muslims increasingly reproduced in Indian serve as whistleblowers
will continue to translate into Mus- and Pakistani entertainment indus-
lim rage, extremism and religious
try. The impact of such movies in
promoting societal violence needs
and inform policymakers
Pakistan is a multi-ethnic and to be critically assessed.
multi-lingual state representing a Madrassahs should be main-
on conflicts which could
mosaic of cultural, sectarian and streamed to include vocational
religious diversity, where imposing training and some regular subjects turn into serious prob-
a uniform 'national culture' or reli- in their curricula to enable their
gious interpretation can create seri- graduates to be productively lems. Our universities and
ous problems. The country's diver- absorbed in the job market. Despite
sity needs to be duly recognized the ban student unions since 1980s, research organizations
and respected. campus violence in Pakistan has
There is a need to educate gotten worse. There is the need to should undertake research
misguided Muslim youth that vio- revive healthy debates, dialogue
lence is not a solution to their aspi-
rations, generating an endless and
and leadership-grooming role of
public universities and colleges
in conflict resolution
costly cycle of violence to rather than let them degenerate into
nobody's advantage. Whereas breeding grounds of violence.
focusing on religious and
peaceful strategies could bear pos- Finally, problem of violence is

itive pay-offs and promise better directly related to state's failure to sectarian violence.
alternatives. establish rule of law and create a
Research centres in conflict viable system of justice. The prob-
resolution can serve as whistle- lem cannot be tackled without an
blowers and inform policymakers efficient, credible and affordable
on conflicts which could turn into judicial system. The state, civil
serious problems. Our universities society and public at large must
and research organizations should join hands to counter rising crime
undertake research in conflict reso- and precarious law and order situa-

lution focusing on religious and tion in Pakistan, allowing violence
sectarian violence. to flourish.
Proliferation of small arms
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

From Religion to
Politics to Violence

The areas now constituting witnessed the partition has not
Pakistan have witnessed large- been able to shake off the bitter
scale violence over the last three memories of that period. The

centuries. As the Mughal Empire creation of two separate sover-
Religious weakened in the seventeenth eign states did not put an end to
century, the region attracted political violence on both sides
violence in earlier marauders and raiders from of the divide. In Pakistan, ethnic
nearby lands. Fragmentation of agitations soon erupted due to
years of Pakistan Mughal Empire divided the the Bengali majority's reaction
was largely confined region into a large number of
chiefdoms and princely states
against exclusive dominance of
West Pakistani elite in the newly
to a few that were at each other's throats
and kept fighting among them-
emergent state. This conflict cul-
minated in a bloody civil war,
Qadiani-related selves. The early period of the and ended with traumatic separa-
British and the resistance to the tion of East Pakistan and a
incidents. alien rule added a new dimen- humiliating military defeat.
sion of violence to an already Refusing to learn any les-
Shia-Sunni violence conflict-ridden society. son, residual Pakistan once again
However, the British were found itself executing military
was unheard of, able to establish their monopoly operations in Balochistan in the
except for some over violence, thus creating a
relative semblance of law and
1970s, and in Sindh in the 1980s.
The eighties also saw Karachi
rare tension during order in areas under imperial
control. Simmering beneath the
mega-city engulfed in a ruthless
and long-drawn cycle of ethnic
Muharram iron fist of the Empire were the violence, which still keeps resur-

ethnic and religious differences facing.
processions. of myriad communities that the Religious violence in earlier
British colonialists often used to years of Pakistan was largely
divide and rule the natives, confined to a few Qadiani-
resulting in disastrous conse- related incidents. Shia-Sunni
quences for the society. violence was unheard of, except

Thus Pakistan was born for some rare tension during
amidst a bloodbath of communal Muharram processions. How-
violence and the generation that ever, religious violence in the
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

present form is a new phenome- Quran and enforcement of
non that started in the 1980s. The Shariah (Islamic laws) and they
last two decades have witnessed present Islam as the panacea of
a marked upsurge in religious all ills facing Muslim societies in
and sectarian violence in Pak- general and Pakistan in particu-
istan. Recent religious violence lar. To most of these groups, the

is targeted at individuals and state and territoriality is superfi-
groups whose beliefs are anti- cial and transient for the commu-
thetical to those who perpetrate
violence. Presently, extremism
nity of believers. They rather
aim at transforming the society
extremism in
in Pakistan is 'bolder and fiercer
than ever, its tentacles spread
according to their own doctrine
of Islam.3
Pakistan is 'bolder
from Waziristan to Karachi.'1
This violence has reached such
Religio-political groups
have existed in the sub-continent
and fiercer than
proportions that, according to since the later half of the nine- ever, its tentacles
some experts, it can tear down teenth century when revivalist
the very fabric of society. It has movements started organizing in spread from
already left a deep impact on the the form of modern associations.
civil society as well as democra- Some of these groups were in the Waziristan to
tic and economic development of forefront of the struggle against
the country. the British rule and some later Karachi.' This
The organizations involved played valuable role in providing
in religious violence can be relief services to the people. In violence has reached
placed in broad category of reli- the last two decades, religio-
gio-political groups, though only political organizations have such proportions
a small number of religio-politi- undergone a metamorphosis that
cal groups are directly involved has changed them beyond recog- that, according to
in acts of violence. According to nition. Two important aspects of
Saeed Shafqat, religio-political this change are a mushroom some experts, it
groups, like other interest group, growth in their numbers and a
are groups based on "associa- changed worldview linked to a
can tear down the
tion, solidarity and belief". He
adds: "In most cases, their mem-
rising trend of militancy.
However, not all religious
very fabric of

bership is open and encourages groups support violent means or
formal and informal association. 'privatized' jihad to forcibly
They articulate the interests of change the society or the world
those who are associated with order. Stephen P. Cohen defines
them and aim to influence the radical Islamist groups, i.e.
public policy process and the groups that believe in violence

government."2 as "those that seek major
The broad goal of these changes in Pakistani political
groups is the supremacy the and social order and support vio-
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

lence to achieve those changes."4 after the creation of Pakistan,
Religio-political organiza- religio-political groups mainly
tions have lately turned them- focused on societal change and
selves into guardians of 'Pak- reforming the morals of the indi-
istan Ideology', 'Islamic ideol- viduals. Some of these groups
ogy' and the nuclear bomb and gained respectability during this
taken upon themselves the man- period by opposing the Ayub
tle of patrons of jihad in Kash- regime and supporting Miss
mir, Afghanistan and every- Fatima Jinnah in presidential
where in the world. Some of elections against the former.
these groups have developed a During the Bhutto era, reli-
strong hatred against non-Mus- gious groups turned into a pow-
lim minorities, while others are erful opposition. Bhutto's own
committed to fighting the "big- rhetoric of Islamic unity and
ger evil" of other Muslim sects. recourse to Islamic symbolism
Activities of militant religious played no small part in giving
groups have caused the death of people an imagination of an
thousands of people, mostly Islamic order. He made an effort
innocent citizens, destabilized to capitalize on religion for his
the country and turned it into an own political objectives but
international pariah. Pakistani ironically, he became a victim to
a movement that started to
protest rigging in general elec-
tions of 1977, but turned into a

nationwide mass movement for
Bhutto's own rhetoric of Islamic unity and recourse to enforcement of Shariah (Nizam-
e-Mustafa). This Pakistan
Islamic symbolism played no small part in giving people an National Alliance (PNA) move-
ment brought the country to a
imagination of an Islamic order. He made an effort to standstill and paved the way for
Gen. Zia ul-Haq's military
capitalize on religion for his own political objectives but takeover.
The Islamization process

ironically, he became a victim to a movement... became the most identifiable
feature of the Zia regime and
increasingly its raison d'etere.
Zia's Islamization intensified
militant have been found sectarian divisions within Islam
involved in religious extremism in Pakistani.5 It was during the
in Xingiang province of China, Zia era that Pakistan became
Uzbekistan, and elsewhere, often involved in the Afghan war,
seriously straining Pakistan's which changed the nature of

diplomatic relations with those Pakistani politics, particularly
countries. religious politics. It was during
During the first two decades this period that the religious par-
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

ties turned to jihad, shifting their of making use of the Jamaat's
emphasis from proselytizing and and other religious forces' ener-
reformation to jihad and violent gies and diverting them away
activities. Some of the main- from domestic politics.6
stream religious parties either Many religious groups,
formed their jihad/militant which had no tradition of radi-
wings or entered into close asso- calism, turned to violence in

ciation with one such group. 1980s. Many armed splinter
Both the number and ranks of groups emerged out of these Many
militant organizations swelled groups, which were organized in
and more and more splinter a clandestine framework. The religious groups,
groups emerged out of existing nature of relationship between
militant organizations.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Pak-
the splinter groups and the
mother organizations remains
which had no
istan's most influential religious
party, for example, went through
unclear. It is therefore difficult to
discover the extent to which
tradition of
a metamorphosis due to its such groups are wholly
involvement in Afghanistan. autonomous or whether, on the radicalism, turned
Soon after the Soviet invasion of other hand, their links to their
Afghanistan, Zia brought the parent organizations persist.7 to violence in
Jamaat on board his Afghan pol- Involvement in Afghanistan
icy. This helped him depict the changed the orientation of polit- 1980s. Many
Afghan war as jihad against ical parties altogether. Societal
Communist Soviet Union and reform became subservient to armed splinter
enhance his own stature as a aim of jihad. The image of reli-
"Mujahid". The Jamaat benefited
from the huge flow of funds
gious leader changed from a
humble looking khaddar-clad
groups emerged out
from Saudi Arabia and money
pouring from other sources. The
gentleman to a tough looking
person riding a Pajero and fol-
of these groups,
Afghan war was advantageous lowed by half a dozen Kalash-
for the Jamaat because it pro- nikov toting bodyguards. which were
moted its close ties with the Youth wings of religious
army and its agencies. The parties were militarized follow- organized in a
Jamaat played a crucial role in ing their exposure to guerrilla
the Afghan jihad as large sums warfare. clandestine
of money were channeled Mohammad Waseem makes

through it in the early years of a distinction between two gener- framework.
the Jihad to the mujahideen. This ations of Islamists in Pakistan's
connection with the military history in these words:
establishment further enabled
the Jamaat to press the Zia The first-generation
regime to undertake Islamization Islamists, who were generally

in Pakistan, in line with the supra-sectarian, aimed at
Jamaat's vision of Islam. The changing the law of the land,
jihad for Zia served as a means struggled to enter the state
Gender Violence in Pakistan

through elections, operated puts it, Afghan jihad led to
through the printed word and "Islamization of criminal activity
dabbled in conceptualizing the and criminalization of segments
West, modernity, science, public of Islamism in Pakistan."10 A link
morality and statehood. The sec- was forged between drug smug-
ond-generation Islamists were glers, jihadi elements and seg-

sectarian, localist and militant. ments of Pakistan's ruling estab-
They lacked intellectual tools for lishments. Later when this rela-
The insurgency in understanding the dynamics of tionship weakened, sectarianism
the state, the region, and the terrorists also turned to other
Kashmir provided these world at large. They focused on criminal activities.
simple polarities such as Islam As Soviet Union neared col-
parties a chance to carve and the West as good and evil, lapse and the Geneva peace
respectively. They prepared process set in, the USA disen-
themselves for war against the gaged from Afghanistan
out a new post-Afghan perceived domination of Chris- abruptly, without bothering to
tians and Jews over the Muslim dismantle the jihadi infrastruc-
jihadic role for World.8 ture it had helped put together
over a period of a decade, with
themselves. The new According to Saeed Shafqat, resources of billions of dollars.
the CIA-ISI collaboration in pur- USA, in a paradigm shift, started
suit of the Afghan war had two looking at the holy warriors as
battle cry became: "Ham consequences for religio-politi- terrorists. The mujahideen, too,
cal groups. First, it led to fac- adopted an autonomous position
Jashn-e-Kabul mana tionalism and fragmentation of and became increasingly anti-
the religious parties, because American.
chuke, ab ao chalo Kash- religious groups began to jostle When Afghan jihad against
for procuring funds and training. the Soviets ended in the late
This tension produced personal- eighties, religious parties found
mir chalain" (We have ity centric factions among the it difficult to redefine their role.
religious groups. In 1980-88, the The insurgency in Kashmir pro-
already celebrated victory JUI (Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam) vided these parties a chance to
got split into about 11 factions, carve out a new post-Afghan
in Kabul; now let us while the JUP (Jamiat-e-Ulema- jihadic role for themselves. The
e-Pakistan) got divided into 5 new battle cry became: "Ham

factions.9 Jashn-e-Kabul mana chuke, ab
go to Kashmir). The fact that Afghan jihad ao chalo Kashmir chalain" (We
led to proliferation of small arms have already celebrated victory
in Pakistan played no small part in Kabul; now let us go to Kash-
in increasing religious violence mir).
in Pakistan. The extremists of the With the help of Hikmatyar's
two warring sects, namely, Shias Hizb-e-Islami, JI formed "Hizbul

and Sunnis, tried to settle doctri- Mujahidin", a militant organiza-
nal differences with Kalash- tion of Kashmiri freedom fight-
nikovs. As Syed Wali Reza Nasr ers in which Pakistani young
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

men were inducted. While some Encouraged by the West and
jihadi groups turned their atten- Pakistan during the Afghan war,
tion from Afghanistan to Kash- many of the foreign militants
mir, others remained active on settled in the NWFP during the
both the fronts, engaging in holy eighties. Official sources claim
war while serving foreign policy that over a period of eleven
objectives of the Pakistan's years, about 20,000 Arabs
secret services. Some jihadi poured into Pakistan and
groups even opened a third front received military training in the
- against Shias in Pakistan. tribal regions bordering
These groups operated in a truly Afghanistan to fight against the
amphibian manner, easily mov- Soviet-backed Afghan regime.
ing between different militant Many of these were Wahabi
identities. Thus, for instance, groups, already engaged in
Harkat-ul-Ansar fighters were struggle against their own
known with this name in Kash- authoritarian, repressive and
mir, as Pakistani Taliban in supposedly 'unIslamic' govern-
Afghanistan and as Sipah-e- ments.
Sahaba militants in Pakistan. When the Pakistan govern-
Veterans of the Afghan war ment finally woke up to fact that
and new recruits, mainly belong- certain Arab groups had been

“ Encouraged by the West and Pakistan during the Afghan war,
many of the foreign militants settled in the NWFP during the
eighties. Official sources claim that over a period of eleven years,
about 20,000 Arabs poured into Pakistan and received military

training in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan

ing to small towns of Punjab, misusing Pakistani hospitality
but not excluding other ethnic and that their activism had
groups, joined the Kashmir jihad pushed this country to the brink
in large numbers. This seriously of being declared a terrorist state
undermined the indigenous by the United States, it decided

nature of the Kashmir struggle to flush them out. The crack-
and international credibility of down against the militants was
the Kashmiri uprising. initiated during the first tenure
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

of Nawaz Sharif (1990-1993), the National Assembly (17 per-
resulting in the JI falling out cent of the total). MMA was also
with his government. The same able to form its government in
policy was vigorously pursued NWFP and a coalition govern-
by the later governments of ment in Balochistan.12 Despite
Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz this ambiguous success, which
Sharif.11 many analysts ascribe to the
The involvement of religious "Mullah- Military Alliance", no
parties in jihad and violence and single religious party has yet
their patronage for armed militias been able to win more than five
and lashkars proved a political percent of the total votes.
disaster for them. The political On the positive note, this
performance of these parties limited success has brought reli-
deteriorated from bad to worse gio-political parties back to the
during the eighties and nineties. mainstream of Pakistan's politics.
At one point, most religious par- It could result in these parties
ties boycotted the elections to concentrating more on politics

“ On the positive note, this limited success has brought
religio-political parties back to the mainstream of Pakistan's
politics. It could result in these parties concentrating more on
politics and less on jihad. They could also be more responsive to

military's changing geo-political perceptions in this region.

save themselves from the embar- and less on jihad. They could
rassment of an ignominious also be more responsive to mili-
defeat. They seemed to have par- tary's changing geo-political per-
tially recovered in October 2002 ceptions in this region. This may,
elections, when the Muttahida however, have a limited impact
Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an on religious militancy as main-

alliance of six religious parties stream religious parties have lost
pooled 11 percent of votes, influence on jihadi and sectarian
which translated into 53 seats in organizations.
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

Seeds of Decay

Pakistan became a hub of tions and strengthened their ties
sectarian and jihadi violence due with vested political interests.
to a complex interplay of internal The number of students studying
and external factors. Some of at these madressahs also rose
these factors have been discuss phenomenally. While the
ed below. madressah students were esti-
mated at 100,000 in 1975, their
Madressah Factor numbers swelled to 570,000 in

Madressahs are important 1998. In Punjab alone, their num-
social institutions in Pakistan that bers were estimated at 220,000.14
provide free education, boarding The JUI, during the Afghan While the
and lodging to children from
underprivileged background. The
jihad, chose to set up thousands
of madressahs throughout the
madressah students
number of madressahs in Pak-
istan increased from around 700
country and especially in the
NWFP and Balochistan where
were estimated at
in both East and West Pakistan Afghan refugee students were 100,000 in 1975,
after independence to 3,874 in enrolled and a large number of
the whole country in 1995. In mujahideen recruited. Students their numbers
2002, more than 5,000 madres- from these institutions later
sahs were supposed to be active formed the Taliban and estab- swelled to 570,000
on the ground in the country.13 lished control over most of
The Zia regime, in an effort Afghanistan. in 1998. In
to create a support base for itself,
supported establishment of new
On the demand side, madres-
sahs have sprung up to cater to an
Punjab alone, their
madressahs and provided mone-
tary support to the old ones. The
ever-growing demand for educa-
tion by low income groups in
numbers were
Zakat money was used in large rural Pakistan, particularly Pun- estimated at
amounts to further this cause. jab. Many parents who cannot

Due to madressahs' involvement afford to send their children to 220,000.
in Afghan jihad, generous dona- schools, hand them over to the
tions were made available by madressahs where they get free
Saudi Arabia and some other food, lodging, clothes and some
Arab countries for old and new pocket money. This background
madressahs. Iran, on the other of madressah graduates plays a
hand, provided support to Shia crucial role in the formation of
madressahs in the country. This their outlook on life. They tend to

sudden influx of money grow up with a feeling of aver-
increased madressahs' impor- sion and indifference towards the
tance as socio-political institu- society, particularly the more
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

well off sections. on the state of religious violence
Deeni (religious) madres- in the country. Most of the reli-
sahs confine their teaching to gious militants come from
religious education and memo- madressah background and their

“ Both Benazir and
Nawaz Sharif balked
rization of the Quran. Syllabi
include systematic memorizing
of the Holy Quran; tajweed (cor-
rect pronunciation of the Quranic
violent actions are rooted in
indoctrination at these madres-
sahs. It is not unusual for these
militants to take refuge in
verses); tafseer (interpretation of madressahs before and after car-
over the issue of the Holy scripture); fiqh (Islamic rying out their violent acts and,
jurisprudence); Shariah (Islamic at times, they are provided logis-
regulating madressahs laws); Ahadis (life and decisions tic and intelligence support by
of the Holy Prophet (peace be their madressahs as well.
for the fear of inviting upon him) on various issues Some madressahs have par-
brought before him by the ticularly come to prominence for
the wrath of Islamist believers; mantiq (logic); riazi involvement of their students in
(mathematics) and falkiat violence. For example, accord-
groups. The Musharraf (astronomy); tabligh (spreading ing to a report in the daily Dawn,
the word of God) and a smatter- a number of students from the
government issued a ing of modern subjects.15
After eight years of educa-
Jamiatul Uloom Islamiya, a
madressah in Karachi, are being
tion, students can take Dars-i- held at the US detention facility
Madressah Registration Nizami course, which leads to in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Stu-
Saanvi-i-Allamia (equivalent to dents from this madressah have
Ordinance in June 2002 Matric), Darja-i-Mutwasat also been found involved in a
(equivalent to Intermediate), number of violent acts in Pak-
to control foreign Darja-i-Alia (equivalent to istan and abroad. The founder of
B.A.), and Darja-i-Alamia Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was a stu-
funding, improve (equivalent to M.A. dent of this madressah. Another
Arabic/Islamiat). Madressahs student is Maulana Masood
curricula and disallow follow different curricula in Azhar and so was Maulana Azam
accordance with their denomina- Tariq. According to the report,
training in the tion. In 1979, Zia regime granted
recognition to sanads (certifi-
Karachi police had traced the
May 7 bombing of a mosque in

cates) of certain madressahs Karachi to another former stu-
use of arms. equivalent to university degrees. dent of the madressah, Qari Ghu-
However, the University Grants lam Murtaza.16
Commission (now Higher Edu- Both Benazir and Nawaz
cation Commission) was not Sharif balked over the issue of
given any authority over the syl- regulating madressahs for the
labi of these madressahs. fear of inviting the wrath of
Though only a small number Islamist groups. The Musharraf

of madressahs are directly government issued a Madressah
involved in religious militancy, Registration Ordinance in June
they exert an enormous influence 2002 to control foreign funding,
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

improve curricula and disallow groups made them prime targets
training in the use of arms. An of Sunni extremists. Since 1990,

umbrella organization of Sunni sectarian groups have
madressahs, Jamiat Ittehad-e-
Ulama (JIU), rejected the Ordi-
assassinated Iranian diplomats
and military personnel and
Since 1990,
nance and opted for a general attacked Iranian Cultural Centres
strike. Its predecessor organiza- in Lahore and Multan. Attacks Sunni sectarian
tion had been active against all on Iranian targets have been
official attempts at regulation of launched in retaliation for sectar- groups have
madressahs from 1995 onward.17 ian attacks on Sunni targets.
These attacks are meant to assassinated
Foreign Influence openly implicate Iran in attacks
Religious extremism in Pak- on Sunni targets. Iranian diplomats
istan is primarily home-grown. Arabs, on the other hand,
However, it was accentuated and
made powerful due to constant
have mostly supported Sunni
extremists through generous
and military
support from the foreign coun-
tries and charitable non-govern-
funding. Proof of Private Arab
funding for Sunni extremists
personnel and
mental organizations. In 1980s, came to light when killers of
Saudi Arabia supported Sunni Ashraf Marth, a senior Police attacked Iranian
extremists while Iran supported officer, were apprehended.
Shia groups. During the first Ashraf Marth had taken some Cultural Centres
Gulf War, Sunni extremist bold actions in arresting the
groups sought to complicate killers of Agha Mohammad Ali in Lahore and
relations between Tehran and Rahimi, Iranian Cultural Attaché
Islamabad and to portray Pak- in Multan in February 1997. Multan. Attacks
istani Shias (having strong pro- When Taliban came to
Iran leanings, partly shared by
many Sunnis too) as agents of
power in Afghanistan in August
1990, Pakistan's Sunni extremist
on Iranian targets
foreign powers.18 Shia-Sunni
violence turned into a proxy war
groups were able to forge strong
links with the student militia.
have been launched
between the two warring sides Thousands of Pakistani activists
which virtually extended the crossed the border to fight along- in retaliation
Iran-Iraq war into Pakistan. The side Taliban. This had a nod from
extremist groups began to do Pakistan's military establish- for sectarian
bidding of their respective for- ment, which wanted a friendly
eign patrons and a steady flow of Taliban regime to stay in power attacks on Sunni
resources helped them swell for its own geo-strategic objec-

their ranks, improve their organi- tives. Taliban militancy has targets.
zation and enhance their fire- served as a model to many reli-
power. gious outfits and some groups,
Alleged involvement of particularly in Pashtun tribal

Iranian diplomats in Pakistan's areas, have emerged emulating
sectarian politics and militancy the Taliban model. The Tehreek-
and their patronage of Shia e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

(TNSM) led by Sufi Muhammad and institutional linkages to reli-
in Malkand region of NWFP is gio-political groups that have
one such organization. reciprocally endowed them with

Besides, Indian intelligence legitimacy.21 An unholy nexus
Religious agencies are often blamed for has existed between Pakistan's
supporting violent activities in ruling military establishment and
groups were first Pakistan, while Pakistan’s secret religious groups, particularly
agencies are accused of support- jihadi organizations and religious
exploited by the ing terrorism inside India. parties patronizing them. In the
Though these accusations are dif- contemporary jargon, this link-
state during the ficult to verify, some analysts age is popularly known as the
describe terrorism in the region "Mullah-Military Alliance".
Bangladesh as the fourth and ongoing war According to Stephen P.
between India and Pakistan.19 Cohen, "Paradoxically, it has
movement for Lastly, in the aftermath of almost always been the state,
9/11, the international Islamic especially the Pakistan army, that
separation from networks finally provided a has allowed most radical Islamic
global agenda for the movement groups to function on a wider
Pakistan. Al-Badr in terms of endemic anti-Ameri- stage - equipping and training
canism. The unresolved conflicts them when necessary and provid-
and Al-Shams, around the world involving Mus- ing overall political and strategic
lims, especially in Palestine, guidance for their activities.
the Jamaat-e-Islami sharpened the boundaries of the Arguably, therefore in Pakistan,
conflict. Accordingly, state poli- radical groups have been more of
organized youth cies, regional instability and non- a tool of the state than a serious
resolution of conflicts involving threat to it."22
groups in Muslims in the region and the Religious groups were first
world at large have become the exploited by the state during the
former East leading determinants of the Bangladesh movement for sepa-
nature and direction of Islamic ration from Pakistan. Al-Badr
Pakistan, were militant organizations in Pak- and Al-Shams, the Jamaat-e-
istan.20 Islami organized youth groups in
armed by Pakistan former East Pakistan, were
Role of the State armed by Pakistan army to assist
army to assist Many states, including Pak- and fight alongside it against
istan, tend to exploit ethnic, sec- Bengali insurgency and the
and fight tarian and other societal divisions Indian invasion. Both these pro-

to serve their political interests. Pakistan Razakar (volunteer)
alongside it... Pakistan's military rulers and groups and the pro-Bangladesh
secret services are particularly Mukti Bahini have been accused
blamed for fomenting religious of committing atrocities on civil-
differences and using religious ians of the opposing sides.The

militancy for internal and foreign cadres of the former were mainly
policy objectives. Military drawn from the Urdu speaking
regimes have provided patronage Behari community, which later
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

suffered heavily for this involve- government decided to move
ment. While JI Pakistan owns up decisively against sectarian
the two organizations and eulo- groups, it was still supporting the
gizes their sacrifices, JI Sunni extremists operating in
Bangladesh seeks to distance Afghanistan and Kashmir. Ironi-
itself from these groups. cally, these groups enjoyed
Democratic governments in strong links with Pakistani sec-
Pakistan have also supported tarian groups. In 1994-96, for
militant organizations to gain example, Pakistani establishment

short term benefits. In 1995, for was supporting Harkatul
example, the PPP government Mujahidin (HUM), earlier called Successive rulers
was supporting most militant Harkat-ul-Ansar (HUA) in
sectarian forces on both sides: Afghanistan, while activists of have also tried to use
the diehard Sunni SSP (Sipah-e- Lashkar-e-Jhangvi got training in
Sahaba Pakistan) through JUI their camps and also took refuge the state to safeguard
and the diehard Shia SM (Sipah- there after carrying out mas-
e-Mohmmad) in order to weaken sacres in Pakistan. It is also the interests of the West
the TJP (Tehreek-e-Jafaria Pak- reported that the activists of
istan) and maintain a foothold in Lashkar who carried out Momin- and have not hesitated
Shia community.23 In the period pura massacre and those who
1993-96, PPP even gave the posi- tried to blow up the car of Nawaz from using religion for
tion of a provincial minister to Sharif had got training at these
SSP member Sheikh Hakim Ali. camps. the purpose.
During this period, SSP enjoyed In August 2001 and then
virtual immunity from prosecu- January 2002, Gen. Musharraf 's Under the Zia regime,
tion. government banned a number of
Successive rulers have also sectarian and militant organiza- Pakistan not only
tried to use the state to safeguard tions that included Lashkar
the interests of the West and have Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Muhammad, became the frontline
not hesitated from using religion Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan, Sipah-
for the purpose. Under the Zia e-Sahaba Pakistan, Lashkar-e- state against Commu-
regime, Pakistan not only Taiba, Jaish Muhammad, and the
became the frontline state against Tehreek Nafaz-e-Shariat nism but also invented
Communism but also invented its Muhammadi. All organizations,
own brand of "Islamic jihad". For both Shias and Sunnis, were its own brand of

this particular jihad, the guns barred from using terms such as
kept flowing in from the West, "Lashkar", "Jaish" and "Sipah" "Islamic jihad".
particularly the United State, (i.e. collectivity of soldiers or
while the holy warriors flocked defenders) with the name of their
to Pakistan from all over the organisations. However, it soon
world.24 The state also gave transpired that the 'bans have had
immunity to militant organiza- no impact on either the member-

tions for their involvement in ship or leadership of these
Kashmir. groups, nor have they stopped the
In mid-nineties, when the Pakistan government from using
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

them for its own purpose.'25 groups against various political
Despite this ban and his forces identified with the Left,
being implicated in a large num- ethno-linguistic communities,
ber of criminal cases, the govern- provincial autonomy activists
ment allowed Maulana Tariq and the liberal intelligentsia.26 It
Azam to contest elections in is commonly believed that secret
2002. After his electoral victory, services use sectarian violence to
the SSP was renamed Millat-e- pressurize democratically elected
Islamia Pakistan. In October governments. These divisions are
2002, the government allowed also used to divert public atten-
Azam Tariq to contest elections tions from important issues fac-
from Jhang, though his party had ing the country.
been banned and he was impli-
cated in sixty serious cases Social and Economic Factors
including murder and incitement Social and economic factors

“ It is commonly believed that secret services use
sectarian violence to pressurize democratically elected
governments. These divisions are also used to divert public
attentions from important issues facing the country

to violence. have also played an important
The army-dominated state role in spreading violence in gen-
apparatus in Pakistan has mili- eral and religious violence in par-
tated against providing social, ticular. Researchers have noted
cultural, economic and political that a number of distinct kinds of
space to the civil society in gen- demographic changes can lead to
eral and public representatives in increased risk of internal vio-
particular. On the other hand, lence and ethnic conflict.27 These
since the Zia era, Islamic parties changes include rapid growth in
and groups enjoyed a relatively the labour force in slow growing
free hand to operate in the educa- economies, a rapid increase in
tional, cultural and, increasingly, educated youth aspiring to elite

political fields. Even more sig- positions when such positions
nificantly, the state elite sought are scarce, unequal population
to provide a role for Islamist growth rates between different
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

ethnic groups, urbanization that effectively handling the issue.
exceeds employment growth and
internal migrations that change
the local balance among major Lack of Democratic Governance
ethnic groups. Generally, ethnic and reli-
Urbanization and economic gious strife worsen during dicta-
change coupled with social torships, whereas democracy is
mobility has diminished the considered a pre-requisite for
importance of older identities enduring internal peace. In
based on caste and clan, particu- essence a well functioning
larly for those on lower rungs of democracy can work as a non-
these hierarchical systems of violent form of internal conflict
social stratifications and created management.28 Successive mili-
a need for new identities. The tary dictators in Pakistan have
state, on the other hand, has claimed that internal conflicts
failed to promote and legitimize were one of the reasons for their
the national identity. This has taking over the reigns of power.
created space for religio-political Ironically, ethnic, linguistic and
groups to promote sectarian regional problems have invari-
identities. ably worsened during military
dictatorships. On the other hand,
Weak Criminal Justice System democracy is generally consid-
A weak and dysfunctional ered a pre-requisite for enduring
criminal justice system, espe- internal (and also international)
cially in cases of religious vio- peace. However, Pakistan still
lence, has emboldened the
extremists who feel that they can

operate with impunity. On the
other hand, it has pushed Generally, ethnic and religious strife worsen during
aggrieved groups to take law
into their own hands in the name
of revenge. This has created a
dictatorships, whereas democracy is considered a
cycle of violence that has spi-
raled out of control. pre-requisite for enduring internal peace. In essence a
Along with other factors,
this denial of justice is based on well functioning democracy can work as a non-violent
institutional collapse of the

state. Law and order institutions
are neither equipped nor trained
form of internal conflict management.
to deal with sophisticated world
of terrorist crimes. Judges deal-
ing with such cases have often remains in the throes of continu-

been terrorized, and even mur- ing ethnic and religious vio-
dered, and the state has mani- lence, and in search of genuine
fested a lack of political will in democratic governance.
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

Jihad at Home

Except for JI, almost all criminately killing innocent peo-
Islamic parties and groups in ple. Targeted killing of known

Pakistan are based on some spe- members of rival sects is also
Iran's drive to cific sect, sub-sect or school of common.
thought. As a result, a sectarian Trajectory of sectarianism in
'export' its Islamic party is the prototype of Islamic Pakistan can be traced back to
organization today.29 Religious Islamic revolution in Iran in
revolution combined extremism, particularly sectari-
anism, has exploded in Pakistan
1979. Iranian revolution had a
deep impact on the sectarian sit-
with growing Sunni in the last two decades. Accord-
ing to Syed Wali Reza Nasr, a
uation in Pakistan. Iran's drive to
'export' its Islamic revolution
leading scholar, sectarian is a combined with growing Sunni
resistance to its form of religio-political nation- resistance to its Shia character
alism, and as such, its root produced sectarian conflict. It
Shia character causes are directly related to also radicalized a part of the Shia
identity mobilization and ethnic community and pitched it against
produced sectarian conflict.30 the Sunni-majority Pakistani
Sectarian organizations state. The more lasting impact of
conflict. It also claim to be fighting on behalf of Iranian revolution in the region
their respective communities, has not been promotion of
radicalized a part of whom they perceive as commu-
nities of 'real Muslims'. They
Islamist activism, but deep divi-
sion between Shias and Sunnis, a
the Shia sometimes believe that some of
the other sects are heretic or all
sectarian discourse of power, and
deepening of social cleavages in
of their members deserve to be the region.31
community and slain. Jihadi organizations, on This conflict has been fed on
the other hand, make a wider regional struggles for power
pitched it against claim of struggling for the between Iran and its Arab neigh-
Ummah's interests - rising above bours. The first Gulf War that
the Sunni-majority sectarian divisions. started in 1980 and continued for
Sectarian violence started in eight years initiated a competi-

Pakistani state. the Jhang district of Punjab and tion for influence between Iraq
the province remains the hub of and Saudi Arabia on the one
sectarian violence. However, hand and Iran on the other. Pak-
brutal sectarian violence has istan, as a result, turned into a
been taking place in the other turf for the proxy war between
three provinces also. Militant warring nations in the Gulf.

groups commit random acts of Iranian emissaries, fired
violence, targeting worshippers with a newfound zeal, tried to
in mosques of rival sects, indis- organize Shia community to
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

export their revolution to Pak- This tension blew into an
istan. Iranians were also open conflict when Zia ul-Haq
unhappy with Zia ul-Haq, whom tried to enforce Sunni laws of
they considered an American inheritance and Zakat (obliga-
stooge and whose Sunni model tory Islamic alms tax). Tahrik-e-
of Islamization conflicted with Nifaz-e-Fiqa-e-Jafria (TNFJ)
their radical Shia model. For was formed in 1979 to demand
Saudis, Iran had turned into a enforcement of separate Shia
military and ideological threat fiqh (jurisprudence) for the
and it started a campaign to con- Shias in Pakistan. In 1980, TNFJ
tain the Iranian influence. Saudi started a campaign against com-
Arabia worked to harden the pulsory collection of Zakat by
Sunni identity in countries sur- the government and in July that

“ For Saudis, Iran had turned into a military and
ideological threat and it started a campaign to contain the
Iranian influence. Saudi Arabia worked to harden the Sunni

identity in countries surrounding Iran.

rounding Iran. It financed year Shia demonstrators from all
madressahs and supported mili- over the country besieged the
tant Sunni organizations. The Civil Secretariat in Islamabad
Afghan war gave Saudi Arabia a for two consecutive days. Zia
unique opportunity to influence ul-Haq government caved in
sectarian organizations in Pak- under pressure by conceding to
istan. exempt Shias from mandatory
Though Zia ul-Haq claimed Zakat deduction by the state.
that his regime was pursuing a This incident was resented by
universal Islamic vision, the Sunni scholars and the Sunni
Shias and other smaller sects population backing Zia's initia-
perceived his Islamization as a tive.
Sunni interpretation of theology Seven years later, in 1988,
and law. This in fact created a TNFJ was turned into a political

siege mentality among Shias party under the leadership of
who wanted to push forward Arif Hussain al Hussaini. In
their own interpretation.32 August, the same year, Hussaini
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

was assassinated. Tariq, also a member of the
The increasingly confronta- National Assembly, was assassi-
tional and aggressive posture of nated in October 2003.
TNFJ, however, led to a Sunni The two sectarian organiza-
backlash through the formation tions gave birth to a number of
of Anjuman-i-Sipah Sahaba splinter groups. Sipah-e-Moham-
(ASS) in 1985 by Deobandi mad emerged as the militant off-
ulema and former members of shoot of the organization. In
JUI. The organization was later 1994, a group of younger Shia

renamed Sipah-i-Sahaba Pak- militants broke away from the
SSP activists istan (SSP), which means Sol- mainstream TNFJ and formed
diers of the Prophet's Compan- the Sipah-i-Muhammed Pakistan
retaliated by setting ions.33 (SMP), or Soldiers of
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan Muhammed. The most promi-
ablaze the Iranian (SSP), the Sunni sectarian orga- nent act of SMP's terrorism was
nization, was formed in Punjab's the January 1997 bombing of the
Cultural Centre in city of Jhang. It could soon assert Lahore High Court that killed the
its influence in the adjoining SSP leader, Maulana Zia-ur-
Lahore on January areas. A number of reasons have Rehman, besides a journalist,
been cited for its sudden promi- and twenty-two police consta-
19, and staging a nence. It is argued that SSP bles. SSP activists retaliated by
marked the resurgence of Sunni setting ablaze the Iranian Cul-
massacre at the middle classes in the urban cen- tural Centre in Lahore on Janu-
tre of Jhang against the political ary 19, and staging a massacre at
Iranian Cultural hold of Shia landed elite that has the Iranian Cultural Centre in
dominated politics of the area for Multan the following month,
Centre in Multan a long time.34 Seen in this light, murdering seven employees of
sectarianism emerged as a tool to the Centre.
the following contest the authority of the tradi- Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) was
tional ruling elite. formed in 1990 by Riaz Basra,
month, murdering The party has faced a major who came to prominence by
setback due to assassination of killing Iranian diplomat Sadiq
seven employees of its leaders. SSP's founder Haq Ganji, controversial Director
Nawaz Jhangvi was murdered in General of the Iranian Cultural

the Centre. February 1990. His assassination Centre in Lahore. Basra escaped
sparked a campaign of violence from a summary trial court in
that continued till December that 1994 and was later sentenced to
year and leading to assassination death for murder of the diplomat.
of Sadiq Ganji, head of the Iran- Many consider LJ a cover for
ian Culture Centre in Lahore. SSP. It is argued that since the
Jhangvi's successor, Israr ul-Haq SSP leaders wanted to transform
Qasmi was killed in 1991. Zia-ur the organization into a political

Rehman Farooqi was killed in party, they wanted a different
1997 and the last notable leader front to take responsibility for
of the group, Maulana Azam violence. The organization con-
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

sists of small cells of five to observers feel that these fac-
eight who normally operate tions, particularly Lashkar-e-
independently without any cen- Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Moham-
tral command. This makes it vir- mad Pakistan, were created as
tually impossible for the authori- militant wings of these organiza-
ties to penetrate into the organi- tions because SSP and TJP
zation. Almost all activists of the wanted to follow a more political
LJ are veterans of the Afghan agenda.
war. A decentralized and com- SSP and TJP turned them-
partmentalized group, it had sev- selves into mainstream parties
eral dozen dedicated assassins and became part of the electoral
based in Afghanistan till 2001. alliances. In 1990, TJP contested
LJ has a strong anti-Iran elections for the first time, but
agenda and has claimed murder could not win a single seat of the
of Iranian diplomats and military National or Provincial Assem-
cadets. It has also carried out bly. In terms of its electoral
massacres at Shia mosques and strength, SSP has not been able
claimed responsibility for mur- to increase its influence beyond
dering senior Shia police offi- the city of Jhang where it has
cers, government officials, won both provincial and national
lawyers, doctors and clergymen. elections.

“ Till 1995, sectarian extremists targeted community leaders and activists of
the opposite sects. Later, they started targeting judges, police officers and senior
government officials to intimidate the state machinery. Since 1997, sectarian

extremists have committed massacres of common citizens

The underlying factors The violent activities of the
behind emergence of these religious extremists have pro-
groups remain a mystery. Some gressively escalated beyond con-
of groups broke away from their trol. Till 1995, sectarian extrem-
parent organizations because ists targeted community leaders
they felt that the organizations and activists of the opposite

were not radical enough, while sects. Later, they started target-
others were expelled from the ing judges, police officers and
parent organizations. Some senior government officials to
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

intimidate the state machinery. istan's Prime Minister Nawaz
Since 1997, sectarian extremists Sharif accused the Taliban of
have committed massacres of involvement in sectarian vio-
common citizens of the opposite lence inside Pakistan. With the
sect, mainly inside mosques and fall of the Taliban, Afghan con-
imambargahs and during reli- nection of Pakistan's sectarian
gious rituals and processions. terrorism came to an abrupt end
Situation of sectarian terror- and a large number of sectarian
ism worsened after Pakistan's terrorists were apprehended or
support of the Taliban movement killed during or after escape into
in Afghanistan. Pakistan sup- Pakistan.
ported the Taliban to further its The Shia-Sunni violence has
strategic and foreign policy mostly become a contest of body
interests. The Pakistani estab- counts among rival sectarian
lishment hoped that with the death squads, claiming 1,287

“ The Shia-Sunni violence has mostly become a contest of body counts
among rival sectarian death squads, claiming 1,287 victims between 1990 and
2002. In the year 2003 alone, at least 76 people were killed during sectarian
violence, mostly carried out by unidentified gunmen who were believed to

belong to organized sectarian groups.

help of the Taliban, it would be victims between 1990 and
able to maintain its influence 2002.35 In the year 2003 alone, at
over Afghanistan. This situation least 76 people were killed dur-
took an ironic turn very soon. ing sectarian violence, mostly
While Pakistan's influence on carried out by unidentified gun-
the student militia remained lim- men who were believed to
ited, the Taliban started exerting belong to organized sectarian
influence on Pakistan's madres- groups.36
sahs and religious movements. It Apart from religious vio-
provided sanctuary to some of lence, sectarian organizations
Pakistan's worst sectarian terror- have also been involved in other

ists, including Riaz Basra, crimes including extortion, rob-
wanted for the murder of an beries and kidnappings. A num-
Iranian diplomat. In 1999 Pak- ber of reports by Special Branch
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

of the Punjab government point to the military. The Ordinance
to the involvement of religious granted military officers at the
activists in unlawful activities rank of Brigadier and above the
and also the fact that criminals right to convene as many courts
wanted by the police often took as may be deemed necessary to
shelter as workers of religious try offenders. Such courts could
organizations.37 try civilians. Appeals against
The government has mostly conviction by such courts lied
responded by coming up with only with such appellate tri-
more and more "innovative mea- bunals as the military authorities
sures" that failed one after the deemed necessary to establish.
other. During the second tenure Moreover, cases pending before
of Nawaz Sharif, the government other courts (regular courts and
seriously tried to combat sectar- ATCs) could be transferred to
ian menace through stringent such newly established military
laws, but the exercise got badly courts. The courts had jurisdic-
misdirected. tion to award sentences, includ-
In 1997, Nawaz Sharif gov- ing death penalty, for specified
ernment adopted the Anti-Ter- crimes. The Ordinance also cre-
rorism Act, aimed mainly at sec- ated a "new crime" of "civil com-
tarian problem at that time. The motion." punishable with a
law gave the Police sweeping penalty of up to seven years of
powers and introduced speedy rigorous imprisonment.38
trials. This Act, however, According to Charles H.
attracted strong criticism from Kennedy, a leading analyst on
human rights groups and was South Asia:
censured by the Supreme Court
of Pakistan. In September that If the purposes of establishing an
year, a number of courts were set anti-terrorism regime are to
up under the law to provide lessen terrorism, punish terror-
speedy trial in terrorism related ists, improve the efficiency of the
cases. After a year, failure of legal system, and dispense
these Anti-Terrorist Courts speedy justice, Pakistan's anti-
(ATCs) became apparent since terrorism regime has been a
these were able to give verdict on complete failure. Conversely, if
only a fraction of cases sent to the purposes of an anti-terrorism
them. regime are to improve one's posi-
In November 1998, Nawaz tion relative to one's domestic
government came up with political opponents, or to
another remarkable law, the Pak- improve public relations, or to
istan Armed Forces (Acting in rehabilitate one's standing with
Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance, the international community,

1998. The law, which was applic- then Pakistan's anti-terrorism
able only to Sindh province, regime has generally been a suc-
extended broad judicial powers cess.39
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

Allah's Army
Case Study

Nearly 100,000 people listened in awed silence as 100,000 people attended the three-day event, a
a 60-year-old shopkeeper from Bahawalpur manifestation of Lashkar's increasing popularity
addressed the gathering, describing how both his and power.
sons, Abu Sufian and Abu Yasir, gave up their The venue itself is a symbol of the Lashkar's
lives fighting in Indian-held Kashmir. "When my growing strength, as well as that of its parent
first son was martyred in Kashmir, I went to my organisation. At its Muridke headquarters, the
second and told him it was his turn to sacrifice his Markaz is housed in a complex of buildings
life", the old man, now called Abu Shahidain, told sprawled across more than 190 acres of land. The
a stunned audience. "I too have received training complex includes a huge Jamia mosque, garment
and want to join my sons as soon as possible." By factory, iron works factory, wood works factory,
this time, many were moved to tears, and sobbing stable for horses and a swimming pool. Also
could be heard from within the crowd. within the compound, a university is under con-
This remarkable scene was played out at the struction, along with residential colonies.
annual meeting of the Markaz Dawa wal Irshad The Markaz was founded in 1987 by three
(centre for preaching), a religious organisation university teachers, Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz
based in the town of Muridke, some 30 miles Mohammad Saeed from the Unversity of Engi-
North of Lahore. Its activities are focused in two neering and Technology (UET) in Lahore and
areas, education and jihad (holy war). Abdullah Azam of the International Islamic Uni-
The Dawa wal Irshad works to propagate an versity. Abdullah Azam was killed in a bomb
austere, "purified" version of Islam, and has set blast in Peshawar in 1989, but both Zafar Iqbal
up schools across the country for this purpose. and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed still teach at the
Meanwhile, its militant wing, the Lashkar-e- UET and continue to lead the organisation.
Taiba (army of the pure), is an organisation of The Markaz, its two surviving founders
highly trained militants who are willing to go to claims, was set up to combine what they believe
war wherever and whenever the Amir (leader) to be the two primary missions of Islam-preach-
orders. ing and jihad. "Many Muslim organisations are
A unique event by any standards, the preaching and work on the missionary level
Muridke gathering, held amid tight garrison-like inside and outside Pakistan, but they have given
security, brings together young militants cur- up the path of jihad altogether," says Hafiz
rently fighting inside Indian-occupied Kashmir Mohammad Saeed. "The need for jihad has
and those who wish to do so. Also attending the always existed," the Amir insists, "and present
meeting in the thousands are the relatives of conditions demand it more than ever."
Lashkar soldiers, as well as the families of men "Jihad is a path which brings success to those
who have died in Kashmir. This year, nearly engaged in it," adds Professor Zafar Iqbal, co-

Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

founder of the Dawa wal Irshad. "It is because of attract thousands of committed young men to its
jihad that we have achieved the kind of success fold. The driving force behind its massive success
you witness here." in recruitment is deceptively simple: using its
While the Dawa wal Irshad is involved in impressive organisational network, which
various areas, including religious education and includes schools, social service groups and reli-
social welfare, it is mainly through its militant gious publications, to stir up outrage against the
wing that the organisation is known throughout injustices meted to Kashmiri Muslims, the Dawa
the country. The Lashkar-e-Taiba provides mili- wal Irshad creates a passion for jihad.
tary training to its members and prepares them to Those who join the Lashkar undergo one of
wage Jihad. Although the Lashkar was initially two kinds of military training. The first is 21-day
involved in Afghanistan as well, its activities are standard course, called the Daura-e-Aama. A
now restricted to Indian-held Kashmir. Today, it more intensive, three-month special programme
is Pakistan's largest so-called "jihadi" organisa- called the Daura-e-Khasa, is geared towards
tion. guerrilla warfare and teaches the use of small
There are many other jihadi groups operating arms, survival and ambush techniques. "These
inside occupied Kashmir, but their members are courses change your life for ever," says Abu
mainly local men, assissted by fighter from other Haidar, a young man who has just completed his
countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. training. "When you go you are one man and
"Eighty percent of Mujahideen (holy warriors) in when you return you are quite another."
other jihadi groups operating in Kashmir come Indeed, three months rigorous commando
from that area," an office bearer of the Lashkar training, conducted in isolated areas of Kashmir,
confirms. "But the case with the Lashkar is brings about a metamorphosis in the recruit. The
exactly the opposite, " he adds, explaining that 80 newly enlisted soldier discards the old name and
per cent of the Lashkar soldiers belong to Pak- begins to use a kuniat, or arabic-style nickname.
istan. These names are reminiscent of the kuniats of the
The Lashkar prefers not to reveal the exact companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
number of men it has currently deployed in Kash- and later Islamic heroes. It is with this name that
mir. "The Amir decides how many mujahideen the recruit will be known within the organisation
should be sent to the valley," is all that one office- and remembered after his death in occupied
bearer will reveal. "The decision depends on the Kashmir.
number of deaths that have taken place. It also After joining the Lashkar, the recruit also
depends on the requirement and capacity of the undergoes a physical transformation. He will no
organisation inside Kashmir to absorb new fight- longer shave or even trim his beard, and will
ers. "What is known, however, is that the Lashkar allow his hair to grow long. In a style that has
recruits and trains many more men than it actu- long been typical of ultra-religious men in this
ally requires to fight in Kashmir at any given society, the Lashkar's members also wear their
time. shalwars above their ankles.
Compared to the other similar organisations, After they are trained, not all recruits are sent
the Lashkar-e-Taiba has proved to be a resound- directly to fight in Kashmir. Some work for the
ing success. Since its inception, it has managed to organisation in various capacities, running local

Gender Violence in Pakistan

offices and performing assorted duties, including dom)."
recruiting and fundraising. Interestingly, few of Apart from young men such as these who
the Lashkar's recruits come from a madressah or abandon their lives in the mainstream to join the
religious school background. Most are educated jihad, the Lashkar also takes in those who have
at regular schools and some have even attended been rejected by the society. The Lashkar-e-Taiba
college or university. For instance, one Lashkar is proud of the men who have given up a life of
fighter, Azhar Sawar, now called Abu Zar Basri, crime or quit an addiction to become part of the
had completed his college education and was organisation.
looking for work. He decided to join the Lashkar- Abu Abdullah, now in charge of prisoners'
e-Taiba after attending a few of their meetings. welfare at the Markaz, was in prison for murder
He received military training and was sent to when he decided to turn over a new leaf and join
occupied Kashmir, where he was killed. the Lashkar. Now on parole, Abdullah is a dedi-
But while Abu Zar Basri was educated and cated Lashkar worker. Similarly, Abu Shahid
unemployed, many of his comrades in Lashkar Mohammad Tariq, a heroin addict from the low
are gainfully employed but choose to give up income Shadbagh locality of Lahore, cleaned up
their careers. Abu Shahid, a 21-year-old from his act to enlist in the Lashkar. Married, with three
Vehari, joined the Lashkar after attending a pub- children, Tariq was recently killed in Kashmir.
lic meeting where Major Must Gul, a Hizbul As a matter of policy, the Lashkar allows only
Mujahideen militant fighting in Kashmir, those men to fight in Kashmir whose parents give
addressed the crowd. Before joining the Lashkar, them permission to do so. Recruits are also
Abu Shahid ran a music centre, which he burnt to required to convince their families about the
ground soon after entering the organisation. He importance of their mission. It is perhaps for this
and his youngerbrother have both received mili- reason that the death of a son in Kashmir is not
tary training, while their eldest brother is ready to usually met with sorrow. Such news is brought to
follow suit. In their case, the passion for jihad the family by a group of Lashkar leaders who con-
was fuelled by listening to Mast Gul, a charis- gratulate the family on the 'martyrdom' of their
matic figure hailed by many as a hero. There are, son. In nearly every case, rather than mourning,
however, no direct links between the Lashkar and the family celebrates the occasion by serving
the Jamaat or other religious parties. guests with food and receiving greetings.
Similarly, a 34-year-old Manzoor Ahmad, " I am proud of my son," says Mohammad
now called Abu Hamza, was a mechanical drafts- Sarwar, father of Azhar Sarwar, a former bank
man in Hafizabad district before he quit his job to manager who was killed fighting in Kashmir. "I
join the Lashkar. He fought in occupied Kashmir am happy that he did not die in this dirty society
for one year after completing his training in where people are killed in cases of karo kari, or
August 1996. During this time, his group was die in accidents or incidents of terrorism."
involved in more than 10 separate encounters Hafiz Abdul Ghafoor, an elderly man from
with the Indian army, which resulted in the death Lahore whose two sons were killed in Kashmir,
of 10 of his comrades. But Abu Hamza remains goes one step further. "I wish I could become
undeterred. "I will keep going back to Kashmir," young once again," he says, "so that I could join
he says, "until I too embrace shahadat (martyr- my sons who are fighting with the Lashkar-e-

Gender Violence in Pakistan

Taiba." "Otherwise, we fight until death and do not sur-
Most of those who die in Kashmir are buried render at any cost." Seventeen members of the
there, and Kashmiris are known to carry out the Lashkar-e-Taiba are in Indian prisoners at the
necessary rites with the utmost respect and full moment.
honours. When a Lashkar member is killed in In the field of combat, however, it is said that
combat, the Border Security Force or the Indian Lashkar fighters give as good as they get. Since it
army hands over the body of the so called is not possible to bring their captives back to Pak-
mehman shaheed (the guest martyr) to the area istan, and the Indian government does not bargain
police station from where the local people take for the return of hostages, all Indian prisoners are
custody of the deceased. After a usually well killed in occupied valley. The Laskhar soldier
attended namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer), the will usually execute an Indian soldier by slitting
militant is buried in a separate graveyard set aside his throat. However, beheading and disembowel-
for 'martyrs'. Such graveyards are located outside ing are also common tactics, employed mostly for
almost every village in occupied Kashmir, and psychological reasons. In at least one case, a
are said to be the final resting place of no less Lashkar fighter, Abu Haibat, brought the head of
than 350 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba. an Indian soldier back with him to Pakistan. " The
In Pakistan, meanwhile, the last rites of a Quran orders us to hit them on every joint," says
Lashkar fighter are held in the absence of his Abdur Rehman al Dakhil, commander of the
body. For those devoted to the cause, the Lashkar in occupied Kahmir. "We are instructed
ghaibana namaaz-e-janaza (funeral prayer in to treat the enemy the way they treat us."
absentia) becomes another occasion to hammer Al Dakhil claims that the Lashkar's soldiers
home the necessity of jihad. Indeed, every such are highly organised and remain in contact with
funeral produces new recruits to the Lashkar. In one another inside occupied Kashmir. He does
many cases, relatives of the 'martyr' have been not agree with the common argument that fighters
known to present the Lashkar with another young from outside the region are complicating the situ-
man from the family. In fact, it is not uncommon ation in Kashmir and causing problems for the
to find all the able bodied men of a single family local population. "Nothing could be further from
joining the Lashkar. For instance, four of Abu truth," he says. "The Kashmiris consider the
Haider's six brothers have already received mehman mujahideen (guest fighters) to be angels
Lashkar training and the remaining two are that bring God's blessing", he explains. "Their
expected to join as soon as they are older. presence gives moral support to the Kashmiris
As a matter of policy, the Lashkar soldiers and their woes are mitigated."
prefer death to capture. This is apparently Will the 'guest fighters' force India to resolve
because those taken alive are routinely tortured the Kashmir problem once and for all? "We
by the Indian authorities. "Only those of our men should not build too many hopes too soon," warns
are captured who faint during the fight," says Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, Amir of the Lashkar-e-
Khalid Walid, an office-bearer of the Lashkar. Taiba. "It is a long, long battle."

Source: Zaigham Khan, “Allah’s Army”, Herald (monthly), Karachi, January 1998.

Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

Life after 9/11

“ Alongside these old
hands at jihad, the last
three years have seen a
9/11 changed relationship
between Pakistan's ruling estab-
lishment and the Taliban as well
as other radical Islamist groups
operating from Afghanistan.
nization involved in Kashmir and
radically curtail its support for
freedom struggle in Kashmir.
This scenario was foreseen nei-
ther by establishment nor by
new breed of Pakistani Under pressure from the United jihadi organizations. The result
States, Pakistan government has been the jihadis' disaffection
militants emerge from opted to change its Afghan pol- with the government and a sour-
icy within hours of attack on the ing of relationship between the
nowhere. Young and World Trade Centre. After sup- establishment and the jihadis.
porting Taliban for many years, Frustrated by Musharraf domes-
upwardly mobile men, even at the cost of Pakistan's tic and foreign policy actions,
educated at some of the internal security, Pakistan joined thousands of Islamic militants
America's 'war on terror' that trained by ISI to fight in Kashmir
best universities in started with an attack on are ready recruits of new reli-
Afghanistan. This was seen as a gious militancy targeted against
Pakistan and the West, sell out by those supporting Pak- American interests as well as the
istan's earlier Afghan policy, and staunchly pro-American Mushar-
have turned to Islamic also by a large number of reli- raf government.
giously inclined people and eth- Alongside these old hands at
militancy and terrorism nic Pashtuns who had developed jihad, the last three years have
strong affinity towards the Tal- seen a new breed of Pakistani
due to their outrage iban. militants emerge from nowhere.
against what they perceive Pakistan's 'unstinted' support Young and upwardly mobile
to the American war on terror men, educated at some of the
as American-backed also turned militants trained by best universities in Pakistan and
ISI to fight in Kashmir into the the West, have turned to Islamic
injustices against sworn enemies of the Musharraf militancy and terrorism due to

government overnight. Pakistan their outrage against what they
Muslims. had extended support to the perceive as American-backed
United States against the Taliban injustices against Muslims.
in Afghanistan believing that it Dozens of new splinter groups
will be able to continue its sup- have emerged which have made
port for jihadi organizations in it impossible for the security

Kashmir. This, however, was not forces to keep a track of their
to be the case. The US forced activities. Some of them are
Pakistan to ban the militant orga- involved in sectarianism, while
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

others target Western assets. the places of worship including
Some security experts feel that a churches, mosques and imam-
Pakistani version of Al Qaeda bargarhs and killed large number
has also come into existence that of people including some noted
may be behind some of these individuals. The terrorists have
attacks.40 also targeted some of the most
What is even more alarming powerful people in the country.
is the fact that militants appear to General Parvez Musharraf was
have penetrated into the ranks of targeted twice near the Army
army, police and intelligence House in the heart of Rawalpindi
agencies. Several military per- Cantonment and the Corps Com-
sonnel were arrested in the wake mander Karachi was attacked in
of suicide attack on General June 2004.
Parvez Musharraf. At least three Some of the government's
policemen have acted as suicide actions against the militants have
bombers in attacks on Shiite proved extremely controversial
mosques in Karachi and Quetta.41 and may have serious future con-
The targets and tactics of sequences. The ongoing Wana

“ Suicide bombing, which was unheard of in this part of the world, has
become a hallmark of the religious militants. This also shows linkages of the new

breed of religious militants with the international networks of terrorism.

militants have also changed radi- Operation in Waziristan is one
cally. Suicide bombing, which such example. Pakistan army
was unheard of in this part of the started its action in Waziristan in
world, has become a hallmark of March this year in search of
the religious militants. This also Osama bin Laden and Ayman al
shows linkages of the new breed Zawahiri. The troops are facing
of religious militants with the stiff resistance from militants and
international networks of terror- their tribal supporters in the
ism. Going by international expe- Waziristan Tribal Agency and
rience, suicide bombing is they have so far failed to capture
extremely hard to contain. any high value Qaida targets.
During the last two years, In one of the most unpopular
incidents of sectarian violence military actions in the nation's

have once again risen dramati- history, more than 30,000 Pak-
cally. Religious militants have istani troops are engaged within
carried out devastating attacks at their own border. This strength is
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

much bigger than US presence in that collective punishments are
the entire Afghanistan. Both Pak- strictly prohibited under contem-
istan Air Force and the army's porary humanitarian law. Mean-
aviation power are being while, the geographic scope of
employed in support of the this 'internal war' is extending
ground operation. According to into Mehsud tribal areas, with
official firgures, Pakistan Army potential to spread further along
and the Frontier Corps have lost Pakistan's Western borders. The
171 troops, killed 246 militants International Committee of the
included 100 foreigners and Red Cross (ICRC) has been
arrested 579 militants in 35 mili- repeatedly requesting the Gov-
tary operations launched since ernment of Pakistan for access to
March 2004.42 these “troubled areas”, which
The military operation, syn- could further ‘internationalize’
chronized with the ongoing the onging situation.43
American operation across the Though the government has
border, has resulted in many made tall claims of successes
civilian casualties, large-scale against terrorism, the incidents
civilian population's displace- are terrorism seem to be on the
ment, extensive damage and rise. Religious militancy and ter-
destruction of civilian property rorism are not a short-term prob-
and crippling effect on the local lem related to law and order, but
economy through repeated eco- a serious issue involving social,
nomic blockades and the practice political, legal and governance
of "collective punishment" under related measures. The state and
the archaic colonial law called the civil society need to do a lot
Frontier Crimes Regulation more if this problem is to be tack-
(FCR). It is pertinent to note here led effectively.

“ Religious militancy and terrorism are not a short-term
problem related to law and order, but a serious issue
involving social, political, legal and governance related measures.
The state and the civil society need to do a lot more if this problem

is to be tackled effectively.

Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

Conclusions and

„ Except for a few countries, the had its own share of using people's
Muslim world is largely ruled by religious sentiments to achieve

dictatorships that lack legitimacy. political ends, especially in
These regimes are mostly sus- national security and foreign pol- Here, democracy can
tained through denial of univer- icy realms. Pakistan's post-9/11
sally recognized rights, including policy collapse, its subsequent pol- play a critical role in con-
legitimate channels of popular dis-
sent and political change, besides
icy U-turn, and the emergent secu-
rity challenges in the wake of its
taining conflict and coping
state oppression. In the circum- US-led war against terror, bring with societal
stances, people often turn to vio- home many bitter lessons in terms
lence as the only available means of such manipulative policies over violence. There is a dire
of opposing authoritarianism and the past many years. It is therefore
agitating their differences. Here, important not to repeat the mistake need to promote
democracy can play a critical role of exploiting religion for short-
in containing conflict and coping sighted policy goals. democratic culture of
with societal violence. There is a
dire need to promote democratic „ Pakistan is not just a multi-eth- dialogue and debate
culture of dialogue and debate
instead of bullets and bloodshed
nic and multi-lingual state but rep-
resents a significant mosaic of cul-
instead of bullets and
through much of the Muslim world
including Pakistan. The civil soci-
tural, sectarian and religious diver- bloodshed through much
sity. Efforts to impose a uniform
ety and political forces must strug- 'national culture' or to promote of the Muslim world

gle together for such democratic interpretation of one particular sect
transition. or religious tradition over the oth- including Pakistan.
ers can create serious problems,
„ State manipulation of religion including social conflict and fuel-
for political ends, both internal and ing of violence. This diversity
external, is not an uncommon phe- needs to be adequately recognized
nomenon through history and and respected.
across civilizations. Exploitation
of religious divisions or sentiments „ Recent upsurge of religious
is highly tempting and a very violence is directly related to Mus-
effective tool for public mobiliza- lim outrage against perceived
tion and generation of mass hyste- injustices being perpetrated on fel-
ria. Some of the worst crimes low-Muslims all over the world. In

against humanity have been com- this age of information and global-
mitted through such manipulation. ization, educated Muslim youth
The establishment in Pakistan has are increasingly sensitive to the
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

plight of Muslims around the even research programmes
world. A long-term and lasting presently exist in Pakistan. Our
eradication of religious violence universities and social science
requires that just and expeditious research organizations should be
solutions must be found to all these encouraged and supported to
problems. Muslim governments undertake research in conflict reso-
and organizations need to take up lution focusing on religious and
these issues more vigorously and sectarian violence, that has taken
extend effective moral, legal, polit- such a heavy toll so far. (To see

ical and humanitarian support to Ulster University's programme on
The international Muslims under oppression. The the web and add one sentence)
international community has a
community has a major major obligation to provide long „ Government's prolonged
obligation to provide overdue justice to Muslims, as also
to other segments of the oppressed
neglect of social sector has led to
the exclusion of a large section of
long overdue justice to humanity. Lest these problems are
addressed earnestly and forthwith,
the population from education and
other basic amenities. The result-
Muslims, as also to other excesses against Muslims will ing poverty, deprivation and inse-
continue to translate into Muslim curity feed all forms of social
segments of the rage, extremism and religious vio- instability and violence. Ensuring
lence. free and compulsory universal
oppressed humanity. Lest education up to at least primary
„ There is a need to educate mis- level, together with extra facilities
these problems are guided Muslim youth that violence and incentives to children from
addressed earnestly and is not a solution to their aspirations
or demands. It often leads to an
poor households and various
income-generation/ employment
forthwith, excesses endless and very costly cycle of
violence to nobody's advantage.
creation measures, will help in
arresting the spiral of violence in
against Muslims will con- Whereas peaceful strategies could Pakistan.
bear positive pay-offs and promise
tinue to translate into better alternative to violent means. „ Proliferation of small arms
increases the risk of violent con-
Muslim rage, extremism „ Conflict resolution has flict between dissenting groups.
emerged as an interdisciplinary The Afghan war resulted in large-
and religious field of study that seeks to train scale proliferation of weapons in

violence. academics, activists and practition-
ers in resolving different types of
the Pakistani society. Our situation
is rather unique in so far as Darra
conflicts, including religious and Adam Khel, between Peshawar
sectarian violence. Research cen- and Kohat, remains a thriving free
tres in the field serve as whistle- market for all kinds of small and
blowers and inform policymakers even medium arms, produecd by
on conflicts having the potential to the local cottage industry since

aggravate into serious problems. ages. Moreover, the tribal areas
However, no such specialized cen- traditionally enjoy a free flow and
tres, university departments, or acquisition of arms. Despite
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

numerous check posts, many of tively to help diffuse religious hate
these arms readily find their way and violence and promote the
into settled areas and beyond to underlying message of peace, tol-
every part of Pakistan. Both sup- erance and love for humanity
ply and demand of weapons need espoused by Islam.
to be curtailed to prevent such free

flowing situation. „ Mal-administration and parti-

„ Violence and crime in movies
san policies in public universities
and even colleges degenerate into
...problem of
is a recognized source of real
world crime and violence. Holy-
student violence, assuming both
ethnic and religious colour. While
violence is directly
wood thrillers and American soap
operas have become increasingly
focusing on madressahs, one must
not overlook the long and bloody
related to state's
popular with our youth. Though
their effects on Pakistani society
history of campus violence in Pak-
istan. Given the frequent use of
failure to establish
are not known, research exists in
the United States that establishes
firearms in which members of
rival factions sometimes get
rule of law in the
linkages between increasing trend
of violence and these movies in
killed, our regular educational
institutions also serve as breeding
land and create a
the American society. Unfortu- grounds of violence in the country. viable system of
nately, there is a trend of repro- Despite the ban since 1980s on
ducing these genres in Indian and student unions, campus violence justice. The problem
Pakistani entertainment industry. over the years has gotten more
The impact of such movies on lethal and pervasive. It is time to of violence cannot
Pakistani youth remains under- reassess how healthy debates and
studied and need to be critically dialogue and leadership-grooming be tackled as long as
evaluated. role of these institutions can be
rehabilitated. people do not have
„ Reform of madrassah educa-
tion is important to mainstream „ Last, but not the least, problem an efficient, credible
madressah graduates rather than of violence is directly related to
relegating them to peripheries of state's failure to establish rule of and affordable
society. Madrassahs should be law in the land and create a viable
encouraged and helped to include system of justice. The problem judicial system in
vocational training and some reg- cannot be tackled as long as peo-

ular subjects in their curricula to ple do not have an efficient, credi- the country.
enable their graduates to seek pro- ble and affordable judicial system
ductive employment in the job in the country. All institutions of
market. A thorough analysis of the state, civil society and public
their curricula is also required to at large must join hands to counter
prevent spread of hatred against the alarmingly high rise in crime
other sects, religions and societies. in all major cities and precarious

law and order situation throughout
„ Religious scholars of different Pakistan, allowing every kind of
orientations need to work collec- violence to flourish.
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

Notes and References

Ayaz Amir, Dawn, June 18, 2004.
Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of Dawat-
ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba" in Chistopher Jafferlot (Editor), Pak-
istan, in Pakistan: Nationalism without a Nation?, Manohar Publish-
ers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2002. p. 132.
Stephen P. Cohen, "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan", The Washington
Quarterly, Summer 2003. p. 14.
Ian Talbot, Pakistan: a Modern History, Vanguard Books (Pvt) Ltd.,
1999. p. 270.
Syed Wali Reza Nasr, The Vanguard of the Islamic Revolution, Uni-
versity of California Press, California, 1994. p. 195.
Mariam Abou Zahab and Oliver Roy, Islamic Networks: The Pak-
istan-Afghan Connection, C. Hurst & Co, 1993. p. 21.
Mohammad Waseem, "Origins and Growth Patterns of Islamic Orga-
nizations" in Satu P. Limaye, Mohan Malik and Robert G. Wirsing
(Editors), Pakistan in Religious Radicalism and Security in South Asia,
The Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, 2004.
Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of Dawat-
ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba". p. 132.
Syed Wali Reza Nasr, "Islam the State and the Rise of Sectarian Mil-
itancy" in Chistopher Jafferlot (Ed), Pakistan: Nationalism without a
Nation? p. 95.
Herald (monthly), Karachi, December 1995.
Stephen P. Cohen, "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan", The Washington
Quarterly, Summer 2003. p. 9.
Mohammad Waseem, "Origins and Growth Patterns of Islamic
Annual Report, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 1997,
Lahore: HRCP, 1998. p. 222.
Kamal Mutinuddin, The Taliban Phenomenon: Afghanistan
1994-1997, Oxford University Press Karachi, 1999. p. 15.
Dawn, May 4, 1994; Washington Post, June 13, 1994.
Mohammad Waseem, "Origins and Growth Patterns of Islamic
Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of

Dawat-ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba". p. 93.
Mariam Abu Zahab, "The Regional Dimension of Sectarian Conflicts
in Pakistan", in Chistopher Jafferlot (Ed), Pakistan: Nationalism with-
Sectarian Violence in Pakistan

out a Nation? p. 115.
Dawn, May 4; Washington Post, June 13, 1994.
Ibid., Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of
Dawat-ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba". p. 134.
Stephen P. Cohen, "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan".
Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of Dawat-
ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba". p. 106.
Herald (monthly), Karachi, December, 1995.
Stephen P. Cohen, "The Jihadist Threat to Pakistan". p. 15.
Suroosh Irfani, "Pakistan's Sectarian Violence: Between the "Arabist
Shift" and Indo-Persian Culture" " in Satu P. Limaye, Mohan Malik and
Robert G. Wirsing (Editors), Pakistan in Religious Radicalism and
Security in South Asia, p. 168.
Jack A. Goldstone, "Population and Security: How Demographic
Change Can Lead to Violent Conflict", Journal of International Affairs,
Vol. 56, no.1, Fall 2002.
Gjermund Saether, "Inequality Security and Violence", The European
Journal of Development Research, Vol. 13, No, 1, June 2001.
Dawn, May 4; Washington Post, June 13, 1994.
Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of Dawat-
ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba". p. 87.
Vali Nasr, " Sectarianism and Shia Politics in Pakistan, 1979-Present".
Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of Dawat-
ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba". p. 88.
Suroosh Irfani, "Pakistan's Sectarian Violence: Between the "Arabist
Shift" and Indo-Persian Culture". p. 158.
Nasr , p. 97.
Saeed Shafqat, "From Official Islam to Islamism: The Rise of Dawat-
ul-Irshad and Lashkar-e-Taiba". p. 157.
Annual Report 2004, Amnesty International.
For example see Azmat Abbas, Sectarianism: The Players and the
Game, South Asia Partnership-Pakistan, Lahore, 2002.
Charles H. Kennedy, "The Creation and Development of Pakistan's
Anti-terrorism Regime, 1997-2002", in Satu P. Limaye, Mohan Malik
and Robert G. Wirsing(Editors ), Religious Radicalism and Security in
South Asia.
Ibid. p. 393.
Herald (monthly), Karachi, August 2004.
Newsline (monthly), Karachi, August 2004.
Press conference of Corps Commander Peshawar Lt.Gen. Safdar
Hussain in Dawn and The News, October 20, 2004.

The Nation. Islamabad, September 28, 2004.
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