Sectarian killing or violence in Pakistan is referred as attacks and counter-attacks by the people motivated by antagonism against a particular sect. The targeted sects in Pakistan include the Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians. According to a report by a human rights organization “Human Rights Watch” around 4000 Shia Muslims have been martyred from the year 1987-2007 and thousands have been killed in the year 2008. The militants mostly targeted the Imabargahs and mosques to maximize the number of fatalities.
Number of Sects and Religions in Pakistan
1. Islam (Official Religion): 96.28 %
• Sunnis: 95%
• Shias: 5-20%
2. Hinduism: 1.60%
3. Christianity: 1.59%
4. Ahmadi: 0.22%
5. Others: 0.07%
• Sikhs: 20,000
• Bahais: 40,000
• Zoroastrians/Parsis: 1,600 to 20,000 people
• Kalash: 3000 people
• Buddhists: 1500 people
Extremist Groups Involved
According to the Human Rights Watch, mostly Sunni extremist groups are involved in the sectarian. They not only have targeted the Shia Muslims but are also responsible for targeting the Sunni Muslims, Ahmadis, Shrines of various Sufi Saints and other minorities. There is a long list of the Sunni extremist groups but the most prominent ones are:
2. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan also known as TTP
5. Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan
Most Affected Cities
3. Dera Ismail Khan
In early 2003 on 31st January some militants opened fire on a mosque in Faisalabad as a result of which a prayer leader and a worshipper got killed. Soon after that on 22nd February 2003 the militants of LeJ attacked a Sunni mosque in Rafah-e-Aam Society, Karachi in which nine persons were killed.
The Chief of Binoria Mosque, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai was killed on 30th May when the armed militants attacked his vehicle. On 8th August 2004, there were two bomb blasts near Binoria Mosque, Karachi that killed 10 people including a 3 year old child.
There was a hand grenade attack on a mosque in Kurram Agency on 21st July 2005 as a result of which 2 members of Tablighi Jamaat, Salahuddin and Muhammad Rahman. In December 2007, a suicide bomber attacked Jamia Masjid Sherpao in Charsadda and killed 50 worshippers.
On 10th September 2008, 25 worshippers were killed and 50 others injured in a grenade-and-gun attack inside a mosque in the Maskanai area of lower Dir in NWFP. Later in the end of October 2008, four persons, including an imam and a seminary teacher were killed and several others injured, when suspected militants opened fire on them as they were leaving the mosque after offering Asr prayers at Baldia Town in Karachi.
A man was killed and 18 others injured in a hand grenade attack on a Sunni mosque at Mohallah Joginwala in the Dera Ismail Khan on 3rd February 2009. Later in the next month one person got killed and 19 others sustained injuries in a hand-grenade attack on the worshippers in Ameer Hamza mosque on Circular Road in Dera Ismail Khan. In the following year, on 5th Novemver 2010, 97 persons were killed and 70 injured in a suicidal attack on the mosque in Darra Adamkhel.
23 people were killed and 20 others were injured in a suicide attack targeting a mosque after Friday prayers in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency in FATA on 2nd March 2012. Two people died in the bomb explosion that took place at a Tablighi Markaz near Farooqia mosque near Quetta on 21st June 2012.
Three people, including prayer leader Maulana Iqrar and two students of the seminary, identified as Salahuddin (16), and Naseer (17), were injured in a bomb blast at the rooftop of Jannat Masjid in Gulshan-e-Ghazi area of Al-Falah Society in Malir Town on 10 January 2014.
On 16th September 2016 a suicide bomber killed at least 36 people and wounded more than 37 others as they attended Friday prayers at a mosque in Pekhan Killay area of Anbar tehsil in Mohmand Agency of FATA.
On 19 August 2017 terrorists killed a Sunni scholar and a leader of JUI (F) in D.I.Khan.
Zia-ul-Haq was strongly an anti-Shia person and he played a key role in creating differences between Shias and Sunnis and also between the Deobandis and Barelvis. During the reign of Zia-ul-Haq differences in fiqh, jurisprudence arose in marriage and divorce, inheritance and wills and the imposition of had punishments. Zia continued his anti-Shia policies and the number of killings of Shia Muslims also increased. The first sectarian riot broke out in the year 1983 in Karachi that later on spread to Lahore as well as Balochistan. Sectarian violence was one prominent feature of the month of Muharram every year, between Sunnis and Shias that began in 1986.
In Sunnis Zia-ul-Haq supported the Deobandis due to which the Barelvis joined anti-Zia Movement for the Restoration of Democracy and a rift caused between Deobandis and Barelvis.
Beginning of The Violence
The first major sectarian violence took place in the year 1983 in Karachi that later on spread to Lahore and Balochistan.
Funding From Other Countries
Persian Gulf Arab States especially Saudia Arabia are involved by giving funding to the extremist Sunni groups. According to a report by Wikileaks US$100 million was gifted to extremist Wahabi preachers in Southern Punjab by Saudia Arabia and other countries. Southern Punjab has been home to several extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and their benefactors, like Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al-Qaeda
Since the year 2000 over 2000 Shia people of Hazara Community which included children and women were killed or wounded in the attacks by Al-Qaeda and TTP in Quetta. Hundreds of Shias have been killed in the Northern Areas of Pakistan like Gilgit, Chelas, and Parachinar. The situation got even worse after 21 September 2001 due to the expulsion of Taliban from Afghanistan. In the year 2002, 12 Shia Hazara police cadets were killed in Quetta. In 2003, the extremist groups targeted the Shia Friday Mosque in Quetta killing 53 worshippers. In the following year on 2 March 2004 a Shia Procession in Liaquat Bazaar, Quetta was targeted as a result of which 100 were injured and 42 were killed.
Early in the morning on 19 August 2008 Basit Ali from Zaidi family of Chah Syed Munawar Shah, D.I.Khan was targeted. When the members of Zaidi family gathered in the DHQ Hospital, D.I.Khan to receive his body a suicide bomber blew himself killing 21 people and several were injured. All of the people killed belonged to the same Zaidi family of Chah Syed Munawar Shah, D.I.Khan. On 28 December 2009, 40 Shias were killed in suicide bombing on an Ashura procession. There were three separate attacks in the early September 2010. First one took place on 1ST September 2010 on a procession of Youm-e-Ali (A.S) in which 35 were killed and 160 were injured. The second attack took place in Mardan where Ahmadis were targeted. Third attacked occurred on 3 September 2010 on Al-Quds rally in Quetta that killed 55 people.
On February 2012, 18 Shia Muslims from Gilgit traveling back to their hometown from Rawalpindi by bus were killed. The buses were stopped at Kohistan and the militants recognized the Shia Muslims by their identity cards and killed them. The dead included three children while the other passengers were spared. The similar incident happened again on 16 August 2012 when the buses traveling to Gilgit were stopped and 25 Shia Muslims were identified and killed.
There was a bomb blast in the Ashura procession in D.I.Khan on 24th November 2012, in which 8 people were killed and several were injured. There was a series of bomb blasts on 10th January 2013 in Quetta and in northern Swat Valley that killed 130 people and injured almost 270 people. Two of the blasts took place at the snooker club on Alamdar Road in Quetta. The first blast was a suicide one while the other one was a car bomb. In these twin bombs, over 100 people mostly from Hazara Community were killed and 121 were injured. There was another blast in Quetta on 16th February 2013 that happened in a grocery store. In this blast, 90 people died and 180 were wounded.
On 18 February 2013 a Shia doctor, Dr. Syed Ali Haider, and his 11-year son were killed in Gulberg, Lahore. Dr. Ali was shot six times in his head and he died at the spot while his son was shot once in the head. He was taken to the hospital but was unable to survive. Dr. Ali Haider was a renowned vitreo-retinal surgeon of Pakistan and he also worked in Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital.
In November the same year, the violence broke out in Rawalpindi on the Ashura procession when the Ashura procession crossed the mosque of Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jammat. In this violence, 9 people died which included on a passerby and 8 Shia Muslims while 50 were injured. This violence also spread out in other regions of Pakistan which were Multan and Chishtian. The students of Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jammat burnt around six imambargahs and mosques which included the Imambargah Hifazat Ali Shah and they also killed one Zuljinnah.
In a gun and suicide in a hotel in Taftan, Balochistan 23 Shia Pilgrims were killed and seven were wounded. On 30th January there was a bomb blast in a Shia mosque in Shikarpur during Friday prayers. As a result of this 60 worshippers died.
On 13 May 2015 armed men attacked the bus near Karachi killing 45 people. Most of these people were Ismaili.
On 4th October 2016, 4 women of Shia Hazara Community were killed and several were injured when they were returning home to Hazara Town, Quetta.
Later on 17th of October, there was cracker bomb attack on a ladies majlis in Imambargah Dar-e-Abbas in FC Area, Karachi. In this attack, one child died and 15 were injured which included ladies and children.
On 12 November 2016 terrorists attacked a ladies majlis being held at a home in Nazimabad No.4, Karachi near Police and Rangers Station in which 5 people were killed and seven were injured that included women.
There was a bomb blast on the Shrine of Shah Noorani situated in Hub Town, Lasbella, Balochistan that killed 45 people including women and children and 100 were injured.
On 19 August 2017 terrorists killed a Sunni scholar and a leader of JUI (F) in D.I.Khan.
Suicidal attack at shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah in Jhal Magsi on 19 March 2005 killed 35 people. Two suicidal attacks took place at Daata Darbar, Lahore on 1st July 2010 that killed 37 people. Two suicidal attacks took place at shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Karachi on 7th October 2010 that killed 8 people. 5 people were killed in two suicidal attacks at shrine of Sakhi Sarwar, D.G.Khan on 3rd April 2010. Over 50 people were killed in attack at shrine of Shah Noorani, Khuzdar on 13 November 2016.
During the two years, 2010-11, there have been a total of 22 attacks on the Shrines of saints. The total number of deaths in these attacks was 128 and the number of people injured was 443.
Thousands of Ahmadis were killed in the Lahore riots of 1953, Anti-Ahmadi riots in 1974 and attacks on Ahmadi mosques in Lahore in May 2010. In 2014 one of the most renowned Canadian national surgeons Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar was killed in front of his family. The total number of Ahmadis killed between the years 2010 to 2014 was 137.
On September 2001 a Christian church was attacked in Islamabad. The people died in this incident also included some Americans.
A twin suicide bomb attack took place on 22 September 2013 at All Saints Church in Peshawar killing 127 people and injuring over 250 people.
Two blasts on two different churches, Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church, took place at Youhanabad in Lahore. In this incident, around 15 people died and seventy were injured.
In July 2010, 60 Hindus were evicted from the houses and killed because a Hindu youngster drank water from the tap near a masjid in Karachi.