Shiites live in terror as sectarian violence increases in Pakistan: report

ISLAMABAD: In Pakistan, disarmed and powerless Shiites are marching down a one-way street to annihilation as mercenaries who treat Shiites like sitting ducks on the receiving side still remain at large and protected by the military, the Baltimore Post-Examiner (BPE) reported.
After Iran and India, Pakistan has the third largest Shia communityrepresenting 10% of the total population, but more than half of the Pakistani Muslims fear identifying with Shias as co-religionists, according to the report.
Shias feel more vulnerable to prejudice and persecution as perception changes, and therefore Shia killers feel more confident attacking them. Shia killings were not uncommon before the establishment of Pakistan, but they became more frequent and more serious during and after the Afghan war, the report said, adding that the Pakistani army trained and recruited many anti- Shiites for the Soviet-Afghan War. .
The Pakistani military provided them with ammunition, weapons, vehicles and legal immunity, which simultaneously increased their effectiveness against Shia, BPE reported.
Additionally, many anti-Shia organizations have become immortal over time by forming alliances with ISIS, Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Shias constantly question the neutrality of the state in the face of Shia killers on the loose, he added.
Human Rights Watch’s 2013 report acknowledges links of anti-Shia terrorists to Pakistani military, report says, adding that under military pressure, police and judiciary ignore sectarian crimes, which incite terrorists to kill the Shiites wherever and whenever they wish.
Canada’s International Forum for Rights and Security reported that more than 4,000 Shiites were allegedly murdered because of their religious beliefs between 2013 and 2021. The Washington-based United States Institute for Peace said that 3,800 Shiites had been murdered between 2007 and 2013, of which 325 occurred in 2012.
The Pakistan Human Rights Commission reported that more than 200 terrorist attacks left nearly 700 Shia dead and more than 1,000 Shia injured in 2013. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom also reported that more than 600 Shia had been killed for their faith between 1999 and 2003.
Assassins also target and destroy Shia religious centers to discourage festivals and rituals and stifle cultural identity, the BPE said, adding that between 2002 and 2018, state-sponsored terrorists attacked and destroyed 104 Shia centers.
The army kidnaps Shiites for allegedly opposing the Taliban or cooperating with the Iranian mullahs’ regime. Shias are being held captive by military intelligence and rangers without the possibility of evidence collection, hearing or appeal, he said.
According to Shiite organizations, 300 Shiites were presumed missing at the end of 2018. This figure rose to 700 in 2021, but the government only acknowledges a small percentage of these cases.
In places like Karachi, the army carries out illegal door-to-door raids and locks Shia suspects in secret torture cells for indefinite periods. Despite their reservations about the fairness of the justice system, Shiites would prefer a formal indictment and trial in court to unlawful kidnapping and torture, the report said.
However, the Pakistani military is unwilling to oblige because policy makers view unlawful detentions and extrajudicial torture and murder as effective tools to combat existential threats to the country, BPE reported.
The Federal Commission on Enforced Disappearances seems powerless to track down or prevent these abductions. In this regard, the International Commission of Jurists criticized the Pakistani government for allowing and maintaining impunity for enforced disappearances and failing to compensate the victims.
Terrorist organizations such as TTP, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Islami and Ansar-ul-Islam, which have access to military weapons, fuel the fire in attacks on Shia, the report says, adding that Mast Gul, a member of the Harkatul Mujahideen and the al-Qaeda-linked International Islamic Front, was among the terrorists involved in the Shia bombings in Kurram.
Chitral was once a stronghold of the Shias of Ismailia. They now represent less than 35% of the district’s population. Chitral is strategically important for the Pakistani army and the Taliban as it offers an easy road link to Tajikistan via the Wakhan Corridor, according to the report.
The forced conversion of residents and the arrival of Sunni Afghans have pushed Shia Ismailia to the brink of socio-economic collapse, BPE reported.
The situation in the neighboring district of Ghizer in Gilgit-Baltistan, where Shia-Ismailis form a small majority, is similar to that in Chitral. Decades of conversion have forced marriages of daughters to Sunnis and the settlement of Sunnis from Pakistan has reduced Ismailia’s ratio from over 80% of the population to less than 60%.
Pakistani Shias, like Ahmadis, are sitting on a ticking time bomb, and fear of ex-communication is forcing Shias to abandon their core beliefs to be considered Muslims.
Like the Ahmadis, thousands of Pakistani Shiites currently face cases of blasphemy for simply proclaiming their beliefs and observing religious festivals. (ANI)


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