Books and Documents

Islam and Sectarianism

Prior to his assassination by Sunni militants in 1988, Al-Hussaini openly spoke in Pakistan of the theocratic political system put in place in Iran by Khomeini Al-Hussaini had a “militant political approach” to his activism, which at the time “brought him greater influence among a more assertive new generation of Shias [in Pakistan].”[11] It is, however, important to note that the militancy that Al-Hussaini embraced, and which resonated so well with segments of the Shia activists in Pakistan, occurred at a time of great sectarian tensions in the country.....

Solution of Balochistan
Najam Sethi
Solution of Balochistan
Najam Sethi

We are not sanguine. Four years ago, President Asif Zardari pledged to solve the problem "inherited from the Musharraf regime". The military has a simplistic view of the problem: the Baloch separatists are misguided, aided and abetted by enemies Afghanistan and India, even America, to attack Pakistan's security agencies, fuel chaos and fear, and create the pre-conditions for dismembering Pakistan; the solution is to crush the insurgents without regard for niceties like due process of law and human rights....

Khyber Agency: Another Futile Operation
Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management
Khyber Agency: Another Futile Operation
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

The strategic location of the Khyber Agency, which borders Afghanistan to the east, the Orakzai Agency to the south, Mohmand Agency to the north and Peshawar District to the east, has always attracted the militants. The Agency provides a buffer zone between Afghanistan and Peshawar. Moreover, in recent times, it has provided safe heaven to militants escaping from the adjacent Agencies, when they are targeted by major 'military operations'....


Much has been spoken about the body politic of a Seraiki Province, mostly with reference to power politics. Let us now think of its’ soul what, in my opinion, lies in language, literature and culture of an ethno-nationality. Any people can wake up to one’s identity any time, depending on times and triggers. But surely it does. Identity movements all over the globe stand witness to it….


The hate campaign against Ahmedis is particularly ironical, for their contribution to the creation and consolidation of Pakistan is very well known. Suffice it to mention here a few names: Sir Chaudhry Zafrullah Khan, Professor Abdus Salam, M M Ahmad, Lt-General Akhtar Abdul Malik, Lt-General Abdul Ali Malik and Maj-General Iftikhar Janjua. …


Many of the globe-trotting greybeards who met there, and at a similar gathering in Qatar in 2007, remain actively and optimistically engaged. But seen from the outside, feuds between Sunnis, who make up roughly 80% of the world’s Muslims, and the Shia minority (most of the rest), remain savage and are, in some ways, worsening……


Karachi: Machiavellian Operations
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty
Karachi: Machiavellian Operations
Tushar Ranjan Mohanty

Continuing their policy of playing one group against another, reports indicate that Security Forces (SFs) were using the rival Arshad Pappu gang in the ‘operation’. Source indicated that the SFs had decided to ‘hand over’ Lyari to the Arshad Pappu gang after the ‘evacuation’ of PAC operatives. The PAC is allegedly linked to, and supported by, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan….



The administrator remarked that the tiles carrying Quranic verses had been shattered into pieces while being removed. It is strange, he said, that the complainants had not objected to the “desecration of the holy words”. “They were scared,” said Ahmed, “we picked up the broken tiles and have saved them to preserve their sanctity.”…


The policemen etched out the verses at the main gate and entrance to the main hall. They were about to tear down the minarets, about five feet high, at the main gate too, but local Ahmedis convinced them to give them a day to cover them as demolishing them would have damaged the whole structure…

Historically, Kashmir has been dominated by Sufi Islam, a mystical branch of the faith that the puritanically minded abhor. But Al Kindi plans to change all that. In a region already wracked by internal division and foreign pressure, he represents yet another potentially destabilizing force: orthodox Salafism, aggressively expansionist and imported from Saudi Arabia….

Since 2001, the Baloch are in a state of insurgency. Across the province, even beyond the provincial borders, in Baloch areas, forces have been deployed and there is regular fighting. Pakistan forces and agencies have allegedly kidnapped thousands of political activists. About 300 bullet-riddled bodies of missing persons have been found in different places. The Pashtuns have raised no voice on these incidents. There is no condemnation by politicians and even intellectuals on the Baloch agony.


Iran’s inner opposition is always troubled with its own specific problems, and they don’t care about the problems of Sunnis. Any interest in the problems of Sunnis is deemed as animosity against the revolution and as separatism. So no one dares do this. Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, Sunnis have been perceived as a national threat and, therefore, their activities have been continually monitored, and they have been classified as non-Islamic, uncultured and uncivilized, and this is how they are portrayed for Shiite Iranians….


The activists, on the other hand, remain weak, under threat and consumed by semantics to highlight, forcefully and meaningfully, the systematic extermination of the Shia. The ordinary Pakistani’s apathy is reminiscent of the second part of Glover’s quote: “The world would be a terrible place if the whole truth about this aspect of us was what Norman Geras had called ‘the contract of mutual indifference’: we leave other people in peril un-rescued and believe that others will do the same to us.”….


The Shias of Pakistan, along with scores of other vulnerable groups, have been under an unrelenting systematic assault since the height of the Pak-Saudi-US jihad against the erstwhile Soviet Union. But over the last several years the methodical, merciless butchery has reached a point that is gruesome even by Pakistani standards of viciousness and yet the slaughter of the Shias in Quetta, Kurram, Gilgit-Baltistan,


It was only after the killing of people like Malik Mannan, and several attacks on the army and the FC in late 2006 and early 2007 that the locals realized Al Qaeda and Taliban had taken over and were trying to turn their lives around. While the linkages between the army and certain militant groups are a historical reality, to claim that all militants remain proxies of the army is unfair. ….

Pakistan Imploding Under Sectarian Violence
Murtaza Haider is a professor in the Ted Rogers School
Pakistan Imploding Under Sectarian Violence
Murtaza Haider

As of late, the followers of majority Sunni sects, such as Bareli’s, have increasingly become targets of militants who are followers of radicalised Sunni sects. The attack on Data Darbar, the mausoleum of Lahore’s patron saint, in July 2010 left almost 50 moderate Sunni Muslims dead. In an earlier post, I reported police statistics which showed that almost 90 per cent of arrested terrorists in Pakistan were followers of the Disband sect…

For the Taliban, We are all wajib-ul-qatal
Irfan Husain is an author
For the Taliban, We are all wajib-ul-qatal
Irfan Husain

When the Taliban was reminded that the founder of Pakistan was a peaceful, tolerant man, he replied that Jinnah had ‘Ali’ in his name, and so must be a Shia. “We do not accept the Shia as Muslims,” he insisted. From considering the Shia to be non-Muslims, it seems there is only a short step to declaring them wajib-ul-qatal, or deserving of death, preferably by violent means….

“A couple of days ago, during a laboratory session, some students disrupted the lecture and started preaching how Ahmedis are non-Muslims and are wajib-ul-qatal. Brochures and booklets, entailing details of how Ahmedis should be prosecuted, are also being circulated amongst the students. So far, Ahmadi students have not been threatened, however, students report that they are constantly being followed and other students have boycotted them completely. …

Time to Establish the Abdus Salam Chair at LUMS
Dr Salam won the Nobel Prize in Physics 1979
Time to Establish the Abdus Salam Chair at LUMS
Aisha Fayyazi Sarwari

Dr. Abdus Salam, one of the greatest scientists produced by the Islamic world and having received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979, deserves such an honour by LUMS, Pakistan’s number one ranked institute by the Higher Education Commission. But what makes this gesture significant is that it is courageous, even though the intent of LUMS is only to honour the intellectual contribution of Dr. Salam. …

“I relayed the news on to colleagues and students at the cafeteria table. Some looked glumly at their plates but, a minute or two later, normal cheerful chatter resumed.” So wrote friend Pervez Hoodbhoy in this newspaper on March 5, in an op-ed titled “Run for your life”. What was the news? That those men, of the terrorist outfit Jundullah, had on February 28 executed 18 men in Kohistan after being singled out because of their sect. …

An opinion piece in The Express Tribune “Run for your life” by Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy on March 5, 2012 read: This essay deliberately excludes Hindus, Christians, and Parsis. The reason: these communities were never enthused about India’s partition (even though some individual members pretended to be)… he conveniently made some very disturbing assumptions on behalf of people, that to date, are fighting for their right of “Pakistaniyat” just as Shias or Ahmadis…

Sindh and Balochistan: Self-inflicted Wounds
Shahzad Raza is TFT special correspondent based in Islamabad
Sindh and Balochistan: Self-inflicted Wounds
Shahzad Raza

Because of blood that was spilled 1400 years ago, the history of Islam is marred with the killing of thousands of Muslims over sectarian differences. Sectarianism in Pakistan is a dynamic phenomenon, and it always finds new battlegrounds, new recruits and new targets. The spectre now haunts urban Sindh and Balochistan. …

Ahmadis and Shias-  Run for Your Life
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political science at LUMS
Ahmadis and Shias- Run for Your Life
Pervez Hoodbhoy

In Pakistan one’s religious faith, or lack of one, has become sufficient to warrant execution and murder. The killers do their job fearlessly and frequently. The 17th century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, once observed that “men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction”. …

Gilgit-Baltistan: Murder most Foul
Ambreen Agha is a Research Assistant, Institute for Conflict Management
Gilgit-Baltistan: Murder most Foul
Ambreen Agha

Gilgit-Baltistan has historically remained a peaceful region, with occasional cycles of orchestrated tension and violence. Shias were a majority in the region until the Government of Pakistan breached the State Subject Rules (SSR) promulgated in 1927 by the last Dogra Maharaja Hari Singh, in a massive effort at demographic re-engineering. …

The Rise of Violent Sectarianism
Raza Rumi is an author and journalist
The Rise of Violent Sectarianism
Raza Rumi

Denominational differences are not new to Islam, just as they are not to other religions. However, the history of sectarian violence in Pakistan is a phenomenon that, while drawing on old differences of faith, has unfolded in a modern context. The recent rise in sectarian killings, for instance, is a continuation of the trends already gathering pace in Pakistani society from the 1980s. …

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