Surge In Sectarian Violence Threaten Minorities In Pak

There has been a surge in sectarian violence in Pakistan in recent days with state-backed extremists targeting minorities including Shias and the Ahmadi community.

A report in Asia Times said Pakistan is reeling under a new surge of sectarian violence targeting Shia and other religious minorities across the country, threatening new rounds of instability in the Muslim majority nation.

The minorities have been subjected to various forms of oppression in the country with tacit support of state. Incident of abduction and forced marriages of girls from minority communities are often reported.

According to the report, over the last month, four people including two Shia Muslims, one Ahmadi sect member and a US citizen who renounced the Ahmadi sect have been brutally gunned down for apparent religious reasons.

In the same period, around 50 people mostly belonging to the Shia sect were booked under different section of blasphemy law which have been used as a tool to persecute the minorities.

Last week, thousands of people rallies in Karachi in massive anti-Shia demonstration which clearly had the backing of security agencies and authorities.

The rally pelted an imambargah (Shiite religious place) with stones as unruly radical Sunni mobs went berserk in the Imamia Lines Area, the report said.

Worryingly, the report said, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is inciting religious violence by exhorting people to kill those who negate the finality of Prophet Muhammad.

Citing a 2019 report by Pakistani think tank, it said 28 Shia and two Ahmadis were killed in targeted attacks, while 58 others were injured in related violence.

Social media in Pakistan was filled with posts, photographs and videos of the protest, in which a sea of protestors was seen chanting “Shias are Kaffir” (disbelievers) and holding banners of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a terrorist organisation, linked to the killing of Shias over the years.

Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan and people convicted are given death penalty for allegedly making insensitive remarks on Islam. In the last few decades, sectarian violence has gripped Pakistan with Shia and Ahmadi believers being attacked and their shrines targetted. (ANI)

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