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Sectarianism in Pakistan

This is an account of the present scenario of sectarian violence in Pakistan, and its psychological effects on individuals in country.

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Sectarianism in Pakistan
Sectarianism in Pakistan
PROTESTERS AGAINST KALABAGH DAM IN 
KARACHI(DAWN NEWS,APRIL 2009)
Sectarianism in Pakistan
THE PEOPLE KILLED BY BALOCHISTAN LIBERATION 
FRONT (BLA),TAKEN DOWN FROM A BUS.MOST WERE 
PUNJABIS, MUHAJIRS AND PUKHTOONS
THE RELATIVES OF SHIAS OF HAZARA COMMUNITY PROTESTING 
AGAINST GOVERNMENT WITH DEAD BODIES ON ROADS 
QUETTA (2013)
 It is narrow-minded devotion to a particular sect or 
group, especially adherence or excessive devotion to 
a particular sect, especially in religion. It is hatred 
arising from attaching importance to perceived 
differences between subdivisions within a group, 
such as between different denominations of a 
religion, class, regional or a political movement. 
 Sectarianism is the effort of making your group the 
most superior and dominating as compared to the 
rest, by all fair or unfair means.
The dark shadow we seem to see in the 
distance is not really a mountain ahead, 
but the shadow of the mountain behind - 
a shadow from the past thrown forward 
into our future. It is a dark sludge of 
historical sectarianism. We can leave it 
behind us if we wish. 
DAVID TRIMBLE
It can be divided to 3 main subtypes 
 Religious sectarianism 
It means to discriminate on the basis of religious 
differences. 
 Political sectarianism 
It means to differentiate on the basis of political 
differences. 
 Cultural/Ethnic/Linguistic sectarianism 
It refers to segregation on basis of ethnicity, language, 
culture, caste etc
 CORE ISSUE OF PAKISTAN 
 RELATED TO OUR EVERY DAY LIFE 
 REASON OF THE ISSUES SUCH AS 
TERRORISM,POLITICAL INSTABILITY, LAW 
AND ORDER. 
 DISTRACTION FROM NATIONAL GOALS 
 INDIVIDUAL LEVEL PROBLEMS 
 DYSFUNCTIONING OF SOCIETY
 INITIATED IN GOVERNMENT OF ZIA-UL-HAQ BY HIS 
ISLAMIZATION POLICIES IN EARLY 1980 AND 1990 ERA. 
 PEOPLE OF SHIA SECT WERE FORCED TO ACCEPT SUNNI WAY 
OF LIFE. 
 THE RAPID CHANGES IN GEO-POLITICAL SITUATIONS,IRAN 
REVOLUTION, RUSSIAN INVASION ON AFGHANISTAN, PROXY-WAR 
OF MUJAHIDEENS IN AFGAN AREAS AND MADRASAH 
SYSTEM WERE A STRONG FACTOR. 
 THE SOCIOECONOMIC STRESSES SERVED AS A PROPULSION TO 
ENGINE. 
 THE NEGLECT OF NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS RELATED TO LAW 
AND ORDER MAINTENANCE SERVED TO INCREASE 
FAVORABILITY FOR SECTARIANISM.
PROTESTERS MARCH AGAINST THE SHIA GENOCIDE
 RELIGIOUS SECTARIANISM 
PAKISTAN’S FIRST AND FOREMOST ISSUE IS 
RELATED TO RELIGION. WE ARE A RELIGION 
BASED SOCIETY.
Pakistan may include the Sunni majority, Shia, 
and the small Ahmadi and Christian religious 
groups. 
According to the Human Rights Watch, in 
2011 and 2012, Pakistan minority groups Shia, 
Ahmadi, and Christians faced unprecedented 
insecurity and persecution in the country. 
Attacks on Sunni Sufi shrines by "militants" 
have also been reported.
Among those blamed for the sectarian 
violence in the country are mainly 
militants such as Sipah-e-Sahaba, Tehrik-e 
-Taliban Pakistan, and members of Shia 
militant groups such as Sipah-e- 
Muhammad Pakistan.
 According to Library of Congress, Pew Research 
Center, Oxford University, the CIA, Factbook and other 
experts, Shia Islam in Pakistan make up 15-25% while 
the remaining 70-85%is Sunni Islam. 
 An estimated 2.3% of the population are Ahmadis who 
are officially considered non-Muslims by virtue of a 
1974 constitutional amendment. 
 Non-Muslim religions include Hinduism and 
Christianity each with 2,800,000 (1.6%) adherents as of 
2005.The Bahá'í Faith, has a following of 30,000, then 
Sikhism, Buddhism and Parsis, each claiming 20,000 
adherents,and a very small community of Jains.
 In the early years of sectarian conflict, extremist 
Sunnis clashed with Ahmadis, until they were 
declared non-Muslims in 1974 by the national 
assembly of Pakistan through an amendment in 
constitution. 
 Under continuing rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, 
sectarianism in Pakistan, especially in Karachi and 
South Punjab, became quite violent as the process of 
Islamization began in the Pakistani judicial system.
 Since the year 2000, over 2000 Shia Hazara community 
members including many women and children have 
been killed or wounded in attacks perpetrated by Sunni 
Muslim terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Taliban 
in southwestern town of Quetta. 
 On December 28, 2009, as many as 40 Shias were 
killed in an apparent suicide bombing in Karachi. 
 Since June 2010 in Karachi, Sipah-e-Sahaba is 
involved in the target killing of seven innocent 
bystanders and intellectuals; all were from the Twelver 
Shia Muslim community.
Sectarianism in Pakistan
On 03 March, 2013 a power full bomb blast in the city of 
Karachi in the area of Abbas Town killed 45 people and 
wounded 150 others. The bomb blast destroyed building 
and set others building on fire. 
Karachi had witnessed similar sectarian tension in the 
early 1980s when then President Zia-ul-Haq was in 
power. The military regime of those years had been 
backing certain groups to strengthen its rule and Karachi 
underwent worst situation after the sectarian riots.
First they came for the communists, and I did not 
speak out— 
because I was not a communist; 
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not 
speak out— 
because I was not a socialist; 
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not 
speak out— 
because I was not a trade unionist; 
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not 
speak out— 
because I was not a Jew; 
Then they came for me— 
and there was no one left to speak out for me.” 
Martin Niemöller
 The above mentioned poem represents a dire situation of 
political sectarianism that is prevailing in our country. The 
country is divided into many political groups and they are 
interested more in the political powers of their group as 
compared to rest of the things on Earth. The main reason of 
this political sectarianism is political gains over other 
group. 
 All the political groups have their own system of selection; 
they have local area administrators not necessarily among 
common people, but also from the gangsters, criminals etc. 
to maintain their power. Karachi is the biggest example, 
where people are so afraid of specific political parties that 
they don’t dare to go against them.
 The Pakistani country is divided into many cultures, 
tribes and language groups. We have over 200 
language groups, above 20 ethnicities and 7 major 
cultures(punjabi, sindhi, balochi, pakhtoon, kashmiri, 
hazara and seraiki). 
 All the people in these groups are in conflict on 
theses basis with each other.
Sectarianism in Pakistan
One issue is the Kalabagh dam,which is not 
being made only because of the provincial 
differences. 
Moreover, there is demand of seperation in 
other provinces on base of ethnic and cultural 
differences, e.g BLF (Balochistan Liberation 
Front) is an army of rebels of state who want 
to turn Balochistan into a separate state.
Month Incidents Killed Injured 
January 15 124 176 
February 26 141 227 
March 8 9 2 
April 2 2 0 
TOTAL 
51 276 405
Sectarianism in Pakistan
Sectarianism in Pakistan
Sectarianism in Pakistan
Sectarianism in Pakistan
 Quest for Islamic Nationalism 
 Religious Politics and Education 
 Political Blame Games and Divisions 
Weaknesses in Prosecution and Criminal Justice 
System 
 Ideological Conflicts: 
 Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons 
 Regional aspects
 International politics 
 Misinterpretation of religious concepts 
 Prejudice 
 Rigidity 
 Lack of resources 
 Deprivation of rights 
 Socio-economic conditions 
 Illiteracy 
 Lack of fundamental resources 
 Lack of positive activities 
 Intolerance 
 Personal gains
 Economic downfall 
The society is very unstable and its economic condition is 
extremely disturbed due to sectarian conflicts. 
 Political unrest 
There is a tug-of war of the stronger groups and the others, 
especially in political field. So the country is never under a 
proper leader. 
 Instability 
The division of society into non-homogenous groups turns 
every thing prone to conflicts, so the level of doubt and 
uncertainty arises
 Dependency on foreign aid 
As the country is not able to do anything because its people are 
fighting all time, the general mass is dependent on foreign aid. 
 Weak defense against enemies 
The weak economy makes it unable for a country to defend 
itself from its enemies on all levels. There is a set-back in 
every field. 
 Unable to preserve the culture 
The people get bore and bizarre about their own culture finding 
it cumbersome to be with, it turns so disturbing that they are 
inclined to find a new way of life.
 Chaos in every field 
People are not able to take a stand and there is a huge 
chaos in every field of life as the basic resources 
needed to groom are missing. 
 Inability to continue any direction 
The country lacks its true path. Every sect tries to 
impose its own ways and considers rest as cheap and 
not appropriate.
 Frustration 
 feelings of fear 
 Terrorism 
 feelings of hatred 
 Lack of self-proficiency 
 Un-loyalty 
 inferiority complex 
 Brain-drain 
 Lack of basic facilities of life
 Muhammad Salf Khan and Waliuddin (1995) P.U conducted a research on the 
impact of the sectarianism on psychological health of society. The results were that 
the the index of depression aroused on scale as the people were exposed to more 
sectarianism-oriented settings. 
 Alya Bukhari (2002) BZU studied effects of ethical differences and the academic 
achievements of students in postgraduate level. Thus the results found were that the 
ethical differences were highlighted more in students that showed lower self-esteem 
and previous educational achievements, as compared to ones with high achievers. 
 Pakistan Institute of Social Research( funded by UNO and working under Interior 
Ministry)Karachi ,conducted a survey in 2001 about the effect of sunni-shia 
conflicts on workplace and intimate relationing. Almost 73 % reported to deal with 
opposite sect person at workplace without any issue,62 % reported to hide their 
inner dislike in front of them and 81 % reported not to prefer any intimate 
relationning with opposite sect.
 Chaudhry Ammar Yaseen,Sheikh Ali and Saud Rehman(2005) 
studied the effects of cultural differences on economic growth of 
Pakistan. They found that the urbanized areas with higher cultural 
differences are able to be more productive as compared to less 
urbanized ones. 
 Hadia Hussain (2007) conducted a poll survey related to preference 
of the selection of same ethnic member in interviews by interview 
takers. It was found that a very high ratio 7:2 of preferrers among 
non-preferrers was found. The Punjabis tended to support Punjabis, 
same was the case with Pathans, Sindhis and other groups. 
 In different magazines like Readers Digest (2008) New York Times 
(2006), Pakistani society was rated as one among those countries 
having highest rate of sectarian violence, in 2000, sectarian conflicts 
had an average of 70/500 cases in local police stations. In 2006, it 
was 210/ 500 and in 2008, it was 232/500. It also includes the cases 
indirectly associated with sectarianism.
 There is an increase in violent tendencies in areas prone to 
sectarian conflicts, according to a research of American Study 
Centre For South Asia and South-East Asia (2009). The tribal, 
rural and the secluded areas of Pakistan are prone to more 
sectarian conflicts including racial, linguistic, religious and 
political clashes. Most of people involved in such conflicts 
are aged 18-25 and they are funded by different authorities in 
their specific areas. 
 A study by Aleem Agha (2012) shows that the people involved 
in sectarianism are mentally less capable as compared to the 
people not involved. They have lower intelligence and 
psychological health.
Sectarianism in Pakistan
Sectarianism in Pakistan

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Sectarianism in Pakistan

  • 3. PROTESTERS AGAINST KALABAGH DAM IN KARACHI(DAWN NEWS,APRIL 2009)
  • 5. THE PEOPLE KILLED BY BALOCHISTAN LIBERATION FRONT (BLA),TAKEN DOWN FROM A BUS.MOST WERE PUNJABIS, MUHAJIRS AND PUKHTOONS
  • 6. THE RELATIVES OF SHIAS OF HAZARA COMMUNITY PROTESTING AGAINST GOVERNMENT WITH DEAD BODIES ON ROADS QUETTA (2013)
  • 7.  It is narrow-minded devotion to a particular sect or group, especially adherence or excessive devotion to a particular sect, especially in religion. It is hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or a political movement.  Sectarianism is the effort of making your group the most superior and dominating as compared to the rest, by all fair or unfair means.
  • 8. The dark shadow we seem to see in the distance is not really a mountain ahead, but the shadow of the mountain behind - a shadow from the past thrown forward into our future. It is a dark sludge of historical sectarianism. We can leave it behind us if we wish. DAVID TRIMBLE
  • 9. It can be divided to 3 main subtypes  Religious sectarianism It means to discriminate on the basis of religious differences.  Political sectarianism It means to differentiate on the basis of political differences.  Cultural/Ethnic/Linguistic sectarianism It refers to segregation on basis of ethnicity, language, culture, caste etc
  • 10.  CORE ISSUE OF PAKISTAN  RELATED TO OUR EVERY DAY LIFE  REASON OF THE ISSUES SUCH AS TERRORISM,POLITICAL INSTABILITY, LAW AND ORDER.  DISTRACTION FROM NATIONAL GOALS  INDIVIDUAL LEVEL PROBLEMS  DYSFUNCTIONING OF SOCIETY
  • 11.  INITIATED IN GOVERNMENT OF ZIA-UL-HAQ BY HIS ISLAMIZATION POLICIES IN EARLY 1980 AND 1990 ERA.  PEOPLE OF SHIA SECT WERE FORCED TO ACCEPT SUNNI WAY OF LIFE.  THE RAPID CHANGES IN GEO-POLITICAL SITUATIONS,IRAN REVOLUTION, RUSSIAN INVASION ON AFGHANISTAN, PROXY-WAR OF MUJAHIDEENS IN AFGAN AREAS AND MADRASAH SYSTEM WERE A STRONG FACTOR.  THE SOCIOECONOMIC STRESSES SERVED AS A PROPULSION TO ENGINE.  THE NEGLECT OF NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS RELATED TO LAW AND ORDER MAINTENANCE SERVED TO INCREASE FAVORABILITY FOR SECTARIANISM.
  • 12. PROTESTERS MARCH AGAINST THE SHIA GENOCIDE
  • 13.  RELIGIOUS SECTARIANISM PAKISTAN’S FIRST AND FOREMOST ISSUE IS RELATED TO RELIGION. WE ARE A RELIGION BASED SOCIETY.
  • 14. Pakistan may include the Sunni majority, Shia, and the small Ahmadi and Christian religious groups. According to the Human Rights Watch, in 2011 and 2012, Pakistan minority groups Shia, Ahmadi, and Christians faced unprecedented insecurity and persecution in the country. Attacks on Sunni Sufi shrines by "militants" have also been reported.
  • 15. Among those blamed for the sectarian violence in the country are mainly militants such as Sipah-e-Sahaba, Tehrik-e -Taliban Pakistan, and members of Shia militant groups such as Sipah-e- Muhammad Pakistan.
  • 16.  According to Library of Congress, Pew Research Center, Oxford University, the CIA, Factbook and other experts, Shia Islam in Pakistan make up 15-25% while the remaining 70-85%is Sunni Islam.  An estimated 2.3% of the population are Ahmadis who are officially considered non-Muslims by virtue of a 1974 constitutional amendment.  Non-Muslim religions include Hinduism and Christianity each with 2,800,000 (1.6%) adherents as of 2005.The Bahá'í Faith, has a following of 30,000, then Sikhism, Buddhism and Parsis, each claiming 20,000 adherents,and a very small community of Jains.
  • 17.  In the early years of sectarian conflict, extremist Sunnis clashed with Ahmadis, until they were declared non-Muslims in 1974 by the national assembly of Pakistan through an amendment in constitution.  Under continuing rule of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, sectarianism in Pakistan, especially in Karachi and South Punjab, became quite violent as the process of Islamization began in the Pakistani judicial system.
  • 18.  Since the year 2000, over 2000 Shia Hazara community members including many women and children have been killed or wounded in attacks perpetrated by Sunni Muslim terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Taliban in southwestern town of Quetta.  On December 28, 2009, as many as 40 Shias were killed in an apparent suicide bombing in Karachi.  Since June 2010 in Karachi, Sipah-e-Sahaba is involved in the target killing of seven innocent bystanders and intellectuals; all were from the Twelver Shia Muslim community.
  • 20. On 03 March, 2013 a power full bomb blast in the city of Karachi in the area of Abbas Town killed 45 people and wounded 150 others. The bomb blast destroyed building and set others building on fire. Karachi had witnessed similar sectarian tension in the early 1980s when then President Zia-ul-Haq was in power. The military regime of those years had been backing certain groups to strengthen its rule and Karachi underwent worst situation after the sectarian riots.
  • 21. First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me— and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Martin Niemöller
  • 22.  The above mentioned poem represents a dire situation of political sectarianism that is prevailing in our country. The country is divided into many political groups and they are interested more in the political powers of their group as compared to rest of the things on Earth. The main reason of this political sectarianism is political gains over other group.  All the political groups have their own system of selection; they have local area administrators not necessarily among common people, but also from the gangsters, criminals etc. to maintain their power. Karachi is the biggest example, where people are so afraid of specific political parties that they don’t dare to go against them.
  • 23.  The Pakistani country is divided into many cultures, tribes and language groups. We have over 200 language groups, above 20 ethnicities and 7 major cultures(punjabi, sindhi, balochi, pakhtoon, kashmiri, hazara and seraiki).  All the people in these groups are in conflict on theses basis with each other.
  • 25. One issue is the Kalabagh dam,which is not being made only because of the provincial differences. Moreover, there is demand of seperation in other provinces on base of ethnic and cultural differences, e.g BLF (Balochistan Liberation Front) is an army of rebels of state who want to turn Balochistan into a separate state.
  • 26. Month Incidents Killed Injured January 15 124 176 February 26 141 227 March 8 9 2 April 2 2 0 TOTAL 51 276 405
  • 31.  Quest for Islamic Nationalism  Religious Politics and Education  Political Blame Games and Divisions Weaknesses in Prosecution and Criminal Justice System  Ideological Conflicts:  Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons  Regional aspects
  • 32.  International politics  Misinterpretation of religious concepts  Prejudice  Rigidity  Lack of resources  Deprivation of rights  Socio-economic conditions  Illiteracy  Lack of fundamental resources  Lack of positive activities  Intolerance  Personal gains
  • 33.  Economic downfall The society is very unstable and its economic condition is extremely disturbed due to sectarian conflicts.  Political unrest There is a tug-of war of the stronger groups and the others, especially in political field. So the country is never under a proper leader.  Instability The division of society into non-homogenous groups turns every thing prone to conflicts, so the level of doubt and uncertainty arises
  • 34.  Dependency on foreign aid As the country is not able to do anything because its people are fighting all time, the general mass is dependent on foreign aid.  Weak defense against enemies The weak economy makes it unable for a country to defend itself from its enemies on all levels. There is a set-back in every field.  Unable to preserve the culture The people get bore and bizarre about their own culture finding it cumbersome to be with, it turns so disturbing that they are inclined to find a new way of life.
  • 35.  Chaos in every field People are not able to take a stand and there is a huge chaos in every field of life as the basic resources needed to groom are missing.  Inability to continue any direction The country lacks its true path. Every sect tries to impose its own ways and considers rest as cheap and not appropriate.
  • 36.  Frustration  feelings of fear  Terrorism  feelings of hatred  Lack of self-proficiency  Un-loyalty  inferiority complex  Brain-drain  Lack of basic facilities of life
  • 37.  Muhammad Salf Khan and Waliuddin (1995) P.U conducted a research on the impact of the sectarianism on psychological health of society. The results were that the the index of depression aroused on scale as the people were exposed to more sectarianism-oriented settings.  Alya Bukhari (2002) BZU studied effects of ethical differences and the academic achievements of students in postgraduate level. Thus the results found were that the ethical differences were highlighted more in students that showed lower self-esteem and previous educational achievements, as compared to ones with high achievers.  Pakistan Institute of Social Research( funded by UNO and working under Interior Ministry)Karachi ,conducted a survey in 2001 about the effect of sunni-shia conflicts on workplace and intimate relationing. Almost 73 % reported to deal with opposite sect person at workplace without any issue,62 % reported to hide their inner dislike in front of them and 81 % reported not to prefer any intimate relationning with opposite sect.
  • 38.  Chaudhry Ammar Yaseen,Sheikh Ali and Saud Rehman(2005) studied the effects of cultural differences on economic growth of Pakistan. They found that the urbanized areas with higher cultural differences are able to be more productive as compared to less urbanized ones.  Hadia Hussain (2007) conducted a poll survey related to preference of the selection of same ethnic member in interviews by interview takers. It was found that a very high ratio 7:2 of preferrers among non-preferrers was found. The Punjabis tended to support Punjabis, same was the case with Pathans, Sindhis and other groups.  In different magazines like Readers Digest (2008) New York Times (2006), Pakistani society was rated as one among those countries having highest rate of sectarian violence, in 2000, sectarian conflicts had an average of 70/500 cases in local police stations. In 2006, it was 210/ 500 and in 2008, it was 232/500. It also includes the cases indirectly associated with sectarianism.
  • 39.  There is an increase in violent tendencies in areas prone to sectarian conflicts, according to a research of American Study Centre For South Asia and South-East Asia (2009). The tribal, rural and the secluded areas of Pakistan are prone to more sectarian conflicts including racial, linguistic, religious and political clashes. Most of people involved in such conflicts are aged 18-25 and they are funded by different authorities in their specific areas.  A study by Aleem Agha (2012) shows that the people involved in sectarianism are mentally less capable as compared to the people not involved. They have lower intelligence and psychological health.