FACTORS CAUSING SECTARIANISM IN PAKISTAN
The following are some external and internal factors responsible for sectarian fight in Pakistan.
Zia Islamization Policy
Zia’s Islamization Policy is/was a factor of sectarian conflict in Pakistan. He was totally in favor of an Islamization policy and during his period many Madrassa (religious seminaries) were established. Zia introduced the Islamic Sharia law, which destroyed the bond of unity between Shia and Sunni community. The obligation of zakat by Zia-ul-Haq, in 1980s, was resisted by Shia. Mufti Jaffar Hussein the prominent leader of the Shia supposed that if Pakistan have its own Islamic law then the Shia should be allowed to follow its own Fiqa. It clearly showed that the Shias of Pakistan were inspired by the Iranian Revolution and refused to accept the Sunni based Sharia laws and demanded their own recognition as a different denomination in Islam.
The Iranian Islamic Revolution
The Islamic revolution in Iran had great influence on its neighboring countries. The Shia communities get organized due to this revolution. Iran supported the Shia groups of Pakistan
The Shia institutions especially in Khurram Agency, Hangue, and Peshawar district got assistance from Iran. Islam was divided by sectarianism through Iranian Shia and Arab Sunni.
Saudi Arabia and Other Muslim Countries
Saudi Arabia, other Muslim countries and NGOs funded the Sunni group in Pakistan against Iranian inspired activisms. This fight between the two Islamic countries led Pakistan towards sectarian strife between the Sunni and Shia groups.
The Soviet Union Invasion of Afghanistan
The Afghan Crisis played a vital role in the rise of sectarian strife in Pakistan. The US assisted Pakistan financially and militarily which gave rise to fundamentalism in the society. During that time, many organizations were formed in Pakistan like Jamiat Ulima-e-Islam (JUI), organized the Sipah-e-Sahabah Pakistan (SSP) in 1985 and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), while adherents to the Ahl Hadith school of thought organized the Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) in 1987. Mujahidin who were recruited against the Russian forces were Sunni. The Shias organized its militia with the name of Sipah-e-Mohammad Pakistan (SMP) in 1991.
Role of Religious Groups in Sectarian Violence
Sectarian groups are always attached to a religious discourse. Due to the narrow-minded of religious leaders the level of intolerance among religious groups in our society is growing. The suspect in Pakistan is that religious intolerance and extremism has obtained militant support. Bitter hatred towards members of other sects is not only followed but spread to others. Thus, it has threatened the peace and security of the country. This process of targeting holy places is one of the strongest communicating mechanisms. By using violence and targeting holy places, both sects convey a message of hatred against each other, which not only creates danger but also further divide the individuals on the bases of sects. If the Shias attack on Sunni Mosque the Sunni will settle the score. Different religious leaders were killed due to hatred, which include Tehrik Nafaz-e-FIiqh-e- Jaffariya (TNFJ) chief Allma Arif Husseini, SSP chiefs and founders Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi and Zia-ur-Rehman Farooqi.
some of the political leaders are the facilitator of sectarian differences for personal gains. It reveals that there was difference of opinion between the two groups. For example, the Sunni group blamed the politicians from Shia community for the unrest and the Shias blamed the deobandi politicians in this regard.
On a number of occasions there has been emerged evidence of involvement of foreign states in Pakistan. The different ministers of interior, army chiefs, intelligence heads and politicians have also identified foreign involvement on several occasions.
India had never sincerely accepted the Pakistani state and always tries to destabilize it. Pakistan intelligence agencies have acquired strong proofs of Indian involvement in aiding terrorism and instability in Pakistan. It had also acquired proofs against Indian aiding of sectarian organizations Baluchistan. Pakistan has decided to raise the issue at Global level according to Maliha Lodhi.
In Pakistan, efficiency and effectiveness of federal and provincial government have always been a question mark. The state of poor governance creates trust deficit towards the government which creates further problems.
Table shows no. of sectarian incident in different governments:
Sr No. Governments No. of years in Governments Total incident on sectarian basis People Killed People Injured
1. Pakistan Muslin League (N) 09 1056 1543 2801
2. Pakistan People Party (PPP) 10 1134 1983 4060
3. General Pervaiz Musharraf 08 808 1622 2807
This political culture influences the relations between different sects and gave birth to sectarian divide.
Lack of Islamic values in society
Degeneration of Islamic values leads to intersect/ethnic conflicts that leads to violence. “A person cannot be a complete believer unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” (Bukhari and Muslim). Islam teaches us that the basic values and humanity cannot live without each other. For example, in Islam the human soul is in high esteem. In the Quranic verses, “whoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption and mischief in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind” (Quran, 5:32). Similarly, in Islam religion is considered as a fundamental right of every human being. Islam gives a free choice to every person to adopt a
religion of his own choice. There should be no obstruction to practice any religion. As the purpose of religion is to provide peace, comfort, guidance and tranquility in life. But, in our society, a religion of peace is transformed to a religion of violence. In Quran 2:256; God
said “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error”. In our society if we will compare it with the value system of Islam, all the values are badly violated. The religious scholar Kokab Noorani maintained the view that how humanity could exist without humans. “Humans are not just flesh, blood and bones; they are a creation that follows certain virtues, some code of ethics and morality”. Islam literally means peace. So according to these teachings one should know that the best Muslim are the fundamentalist. As opposing to these teachings, the extremists are totally opposing to it or deviate from the basic fundamentals of Islam.
• It is obligatory on the government and the law enforcement agencies to control law and order situations.
• Intelligence institutions must be coordinate.
• Policies of the state should be balanced towards all sects.
• The imam of religious Madaris should be appointed by the state through proper selection system.
• Government should ban such literature that promotes hatred against any sect.
• As the root cause of every social and political problem is illiteracy, therefore, it must be completely exhausted from our society.
• State should initiate rehabilitation projects, so that the effected of sectarianism could be rehabilitated and their basic needs can be met.
• Civil society should work to promote trust in society.
• Media, journalist organizations should create awareness about the religious relics and practices of different sects.
• Civil society organization should launch such projects to create harmony between different sects.
• The Ulemas should try to eliminate the misconceptions about various sects.
• Ulemas should promote brotherhood through Quranic injections and Sunnah of Prophet (SAW).
• In case of emergency, it is the duty of the religious scholars to come forward and control people of their own sect.
Precautionary measures should be taken to eliminate this issue. Sectarianism is just a symptom not a disease which cannot be cured. Media, political parties, and religious groups have to play a significant role to diminish this evil from society. State, society and individuals are the three main parameters of a country. Everyone should take part to resolve this issue. Civil society should play its positive role for the peace and harmony in the state. Pakistani need to think as being a Pakistani not like belonging to different sects and as a Sindhi, Baluch, Punjabi or Pakhtun, then neither the internal nor the external powers could dare to harm the unity of the nation.
‘You are Syeds, Mirzas and Afghans,
And besides being all these, are you Muslims also?
Divided you are in castes and sects,
Do you think it is the way to prosper in this world? ?
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