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Islam and Sectarianism ( 13 Jan 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Sectarian killings in Pakistan: Why it is not possible to stop them?


By Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

January 13, 2013


Dozens of dead bodies are lying amid rain and shivering cold and it is apprehended that the holy warriors may carry out one more suicide attack on them. The state government of Baluchistan is mournful  because the federal and the state governments along with the intelligence agencies have failed to provide security to the Hazara Shia sect against the communal killers having  allegiance to Taliban and Al Qaida. The  Chief Justice of Supreme Court and other lower courts have so far been successful in keeping a ‘safe’ distance over this issue.  And worse, the dominant media of Pakistan feels shaky in saying anything against the ethnic cleansing of Hazara Shias. The reason is plain and simple. Media owners think that if they get entangled in such issues, not only that they will be targeted but also that their business interests will suffer as the hard-line Taliban groups and Al Qaida are already annoyed with the media. And if they are criticised more on the communal bloodshed, then the situation may aggravate further. Expecting any headway by the state government of Baluchistan would be in vain as the helplessness of the key leaders of the state on various matters is understandable.

Getting to the root of all this bloodshed and mass killings is not difficult as it has emerged from many such incidents that the communal groups and organisations of Pakistan have formed collaboration with the militants of Taliban and Al Qaida active in tribal areas and many parts of Baluchistan in order to target the local Shia population.  Though this started in the warring tribals in Kurram Agency, it has subsequently taken root in the northern areas and Karachi. It is comparatively easier to infiltrate armed groups from Baluchistan into Sindh, particularly Karachi, and execute any organised killing which is being done with full force.

Another big ‘facility’ which has been used to the hilt by the communal killers for their operations is the large network of numerous madrasas run by communal groups affiliated to Taliban and Al Qaida in Karachi. If this communal and sectarian war spread over several years is analysed, the role of Karachi will emerge as very prominent. For example, the radical madrasas affiliated to the Deobandi School of religious thought have produced such brains who have played an important role in fomenting this communal and sectarian fire not only in speech and writing but also in practical field.

Among such madrasas of Karachi, Bannauri Town, New Town and Jamey Farouqi have played a major role as the ulema and students graduating from these madrasas have carried forward communal and religious extremism across the whole country. If the religious literature is studied, the madrasas of Karachi are in the front in this matter too whether it is the printing of the second edition of Maulana Manzoor Nomani’s communal books or incendiary articles of Maulana Mahmood Abbasi or Maulana Yousuf Ludhianvi’s communal articles laced with literary flavour. Even the intellectual upbringing of Maulana Azam Tarique is indebted to the atmosphere of the madrasas in Karachi.

If we go a little forward, we will see the prominent influence of the teachings of madrasas of Karachi in the thoughts and speeches of Maulana Masood Azhar. One of the most prominent symbols of the strong sectarian relationships of the madrasas of Karachi with the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan is the oldest organisation the Harkat Ul Jihad Islami which is fighting jihad in Kashmir and Afghanistan and which later gave birth to militant outfits like Jaish-e-Muhammad and Ansarul Ummah whereas the key players in Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also belong to the same genealogy.

Ilyas Kashmiri who was killed last year was also a part of this jihadi and sectarian ring. The leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba Ismatullah Muayiwah who later got prominence as the leader of Punjabi Taliban is also an important member of this circle of militant organisations. Basically, they and hundreds of other jihadi militants are fighting on two fronts simultaneously. On one hand, they have to prove their loyalty to the Taliban and on the other they have to target the Shias with the help of the sectarian elements of the Al Qaida and the extremists of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Punjab has always been the breeding ground for the man force for these organisations which supplies them with a huge batch of young people. Young and fresh recruits are available from the madrasas in Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh, Leh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Khanewal, Rahimyar Khan, Lodhran etc and are sent to various directions.

Since the drone attacks have started, Taliban, Al Qaida and other local communal oufits get a large number of warriors from the local areas as well whereas the news of arrival and inclusion of ‘devoted and dedicated youngsters’ from Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including the ‘Azad Kashmir’ also pour in often. While interrogating a few such youth, The investigative agencies also came across the surprising aspect that some of them belonged to parents settled in western countries and Gulf states and had sent their children to Pakistan for religious education.

The security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan seem to have lost control of such communal elements. It is getting increasingly difficult for them to drive out the communal elements present among the Taliban and Al Qaida because it is impossible to prevent them from entering into the tribal areas after comitting massacre and bloodshed in Baluchistan, Sind, Punjab and the northern areas. Unlike Al Qaida and Taliban, these communal forces easily get shelters and aid centres in these places. They neither face any identity problem in these areas nor are they strangers to the local madrasas and organisations there.

After the arrests of the Al Qaida operatives in Karachi, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Gujarat during the anti terror operations, the Taliban and Al Qaida have used these communal forces for local support and target killings and have got better results.

Now the question is: Can the Pakistan governments and institutions stop this bloodshed? Unfortunately the answer is a ‘no’ because it is very difficult to provide government security to  the Shia sect in Pakistan particularly the Hazara Shia tribes in Kurram Agency and the Hazara Shia tribes spread across the northern areas of Pakistan including Baluchistan. Even in cities like Karachi where the Hazara Shia youth have tried to defend themselves on local level, their opponents are much stronger than them in terms of numbers and training. These madrasas and communal organisations located at every nook and corner get funds from various sources.  The regular killings of Shias in Karachi is indicative of the fact that their opponents find it easier to kill them selectively because it is safer and easier to get to the targets during the fighting between linguistic groups and organisations in the city.

It is a situation more complex than confronting the Taliban and Al Qaida in the war on terror.  The social, economic and political patronage these communal forces receive makes this war more horrible and complicated because there have also been evidences that show that these communal organisations are also used by political parties and powerful groups for their own purposes. Apart from this, the ‘jihad’ in Kashmir run under the government’s connivance is also dependent on such organisations and their religious affiliates. Moreover, a considerable presence of elements having a soft corner for the communal forces in the security agencies cannot also be denied because many incidents have come to fore that show that some targets were executed with the ‘inside’ help. The worst situation is the helplessness of the civil and military governments in this connection as, instead of stopping this communal war, they have been promoting it in some form or the other and have been eager to get their political support.

A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Mujahid Hussain is the author of nine books including the recently published ‘Punjabi Taliban’. He has been writing for various reputed newspapers as an investigative journalist for the last two decades. His writings cover a wide range of topics related to political and social aspects of Pakistan right from its inception. In recent years, issues relating to terrorism on local, regional and national level and security have been the subject of his study. He has readers in the mature circles in Pakistan and abroad.

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