Reasons of Sectarian Terrorism

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Bomb explosion at mosque, attack at Amam Bargah, many people are killed and numerous injured on account of sectarian terrorism. On seeing these news people are moving with pain. Currently Pakistan is experiencing sectarian terrorism. One thinks why these things are going on, is it security problem, ineffectual government, lack of belief in Allah, external hand or war of power.

Sectarian differences appeared in Pakistan when late Gen Ziaul Haq took measures to inaugurate the process of “islamization” in the society. Fears aroused among the minorities especially Shias, the formation was of the Tehrik-I-Nafiza-e-Fiqah-e-Jafferia (TNFJ) in 1979 as a response. They demanded that Shi’a be subjected to their own Fiqa, a comprehensive demand which nevertheless served to arouse the Sunni die-hard. In 1980 TNFJ held a rally in Islamabad to protest against the Sunni Zakat Ordinance. After bloody clashes with authorities in Islamabad and Quetta, Shia forced Zia government to accept their demand for a separate Zakat system and separate Islamiat syllabus for Shia’ students. Result of sectarian tensions was the rapid spread of the madrassa movement during the 1980s and 1990s. Zia’s Islamization, like Z.A. Bhutto’s consignment of Ahmedis to minority status, served as a framework for dividing the country and putting its diverse people against each other. This had to be so particularly in a Muslim society. Sunni population subdivided into four major groupséDeobandis, Barelvis, Ahl-e Hadith and Wahabiséand within these there are reportedly dozens of subgroups. Sunni population is estimated to be 74 per cent of Pakistan’s population. Shia have three groups in Pakistan the Ismailis, the Ithna Ashariyya and the Bohras. Estimates of the size of the Shia population vary widely, from a low of 5 per cent to a high of 25 per cent.

In August 1997 the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) government of Nawaz Sharif passed the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). Intended to prevent “terrorism, sectarian violence, the ATA was severely criticized by lawyers, politicians, human rights activists, international human rights organizations and the public for “its harsh provisions, for legalising extra-judicial killings by police and for raising a parallel judicial system.”

The question bothers the mind which things put a man to become terrorist. Answer exists, as there are lot of reasons for terrorism in Pakistan. Just only 40 percent of Pakistanis are literate, as according to 60 per cent illiterate. Most of Pakistanis send their children into madrassas because their mind make up tells that madrassa is the only place where their children can become a true muslim. Most of Pakistanis are living in poverty and have a lot of children. Parents are not able to give them enough food and education and give their children to the madrassas as voluntary, where they get free food and residence. So, it is very easy to grab their minds and indulge them in sectarian terrorism.

Historical events tell that sectarian parties are responsible for widespread acts of terrorism and violence in Pakistan. Successive governments have done little to prevent young people from joining sectarian groups, have taken no action against the thousands of madrassas preaching sectarian hatred, and have had no consistent policies to manage sectarian divisions or improve religious tolerance. Domestic terrorism stands on the Shia Sunni opposition parties. Those people who are engaged in sectarian killings receive foreign aid and sponsors, willing to foot the bill of the activity of their terrorist and are fighting their own proxy war in Pakistan through Pakistani people.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), citing a Punjab government report, states that about one-third of the 2,500 registered madrassas in Punjab are known to impart military training to their students, and to be directly involved in sectarian attacks. These religious schools churn out huge number of graduates each year, most of whom have few skills that will allow them to be fit into mainstream Pakistani society. Madrassa graduates comprise a crucial component of the extremist religious parties, forming the bulk of their street power. Many of the founders and leaders of the sectarian groups obtained their early religious education in the madrassas, particularly those in Punjab province. Much of the support for sectarian organizations, both Shia and Sunni, comes from the urban middle classes, often from people recently arrived from rural areas.

Another reason of sectarian terrorism is dissatisfaction. When a person is dissatisfied with the rulers and thinks that his rights are being humiliated or exiled, his living of life has not been compensated, he is deprived of rightful inheritance to office, wrongly imprisoned and property confiscated then he joins some religious parties. It does not matter which organisation it would be. None of the organisations has any importance for him. Adopting an organisation would only save him from the critical situation he is in and leaves him to play in the hands of his so-called leaders who destroy his public sense of security.

Sectarian terrorism is also consisting in external hands. Pakistan presents a strategic location between South Asia and the Middle East, bordered by India to the east, Iran and Afghanistan to the west and China to the North. Pakistan and India take each other as enemy and have clashed several times over the dispute of Kashmir. Due to Kashmir India has hostile foreign policy with Pakistan. India is undoubtedly a terrorist state, spreads thousands of her agents in Pakistan and spends millions of rupees for a purpose to destabilize Pakistan. The Jain Commission Report, released by India in 1997, acknowledged that RAW did sponsor the terrorist activities of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eilam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and violent intervention in Bangladesh. RAW is assigned the duty to dig out Pakistani deprived people and search their Achilles’ heel and burning desire of revenge and insatiable hunger for power. RAW gives them money, recruits them in their agency and creates hatred against the country and her people.

To avoid the sectarian terrorism government should take some measures. There is a huge gap between the government and society in the context of programming, polices and planning. Government should give her masses the confidence that they are essential part of it and their opinion is respectable to her. Secondly, rulers should make the environment of a sense of security. Thirdly, those leaders who use the language against other MASLAK should be put into jail with no bail chance at all and a big fine. Terrorists usually attack on specific mosques, religious gatherings, murder of specific religious leaders, specific religious workers and targeted shooting of high government officers. Government should take necessary action for their protection, Create some opportunities for young blood to earn food for their family and themselves, Ban terrorist religious organizations and keen checking of the foreigner’s activities. Let leave the lip service and take action against the terrorists. If government will not ponder on the end of terrorism then it will be growing up speedily. We can’t end the terrorism unless its root causes are removed.

Writer is Saudi-based Pakistani Journalist.

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