First they came... Rise of sectarian violence against Shia community

Pakistan a country brutally dangerous for all its citizens alike due to growing terrorism and high crime rate due to emerging unemployed youth, but lately, perhaps minorities have become easy prey for extremist organizations working under the umbrella of extreme right-wing religious-political organizations.

In the recent wave of terror attacks, the heat has shifted from a more natural prey of Ahmadis to Shia living in Pakistan. Here, I prefer using 'natural' for Ahmadis as the state already endorses limited constitutional discrimination, and wouldn't mind if someone likes to take it one step further. However, Shia Muslims believe to be part of mainstream Islam in the interpretation of the majority of Muslims as well as the Pakistani constitution, but still, they have become the target of recent assassinations and bombings, which are the part of over 3 decades sectarian violence rooted under Zia regime. While looking over it from a historical perspective, the systematic attacks started during the end of the '80s when anti-Shia organizations like Sipah-e-Sahaba emerged over the violent political scene.

In a post-sectarian violent Pakistan, all collaborated enmity was focused on Ahmadis, whose religious views have an interpretative difference from the beliefs of mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims. This partnership of mainstream Muslims leads to the darkest time for human rights of one fraction of society when the state indulged in people's personal matter by defining 'Muslim' which paved the way for future discriminating laws in the name of religion. Here, this mainstream Muslim brotherhood between Shia and Sunni Muslims proved far from sustainable. As in statement of famous German theologian Martin-Niemöller 'First they came...', here Shia Muslims remained a part of the ant-Ahmadi constitutional amendments including Ordinance XX until there was no religious freedom was left for minority Ahmadis living in Pakistan. After these constitutional amendments, Ahmadis became the target of legal hunting in courts as well, and they became more distant from mixing in mainstream Muslim social circles. The fact that the Shia community never anticipated was, next in line, were they themselves. Once Zia initiated the Islamization of the country, we saw the emergence of the political movement of Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Fiqah-e-Jafari against the application of Sunni interpretation of Islam in Pakistan constitution. For centuries Shia-Sunni Muslims enjoyed relative peace in the sub-continental community due to the presence of a major counterforce of Hinduism. The society saw the worst ever sectarian-polarization with the Zia Islamization of the country. However, it would be irrational to ignore the geopolitical scenario of the region where at one side, religions fanaticism was much needed to keep up with the emotional support to the men at wars in Afghanistan. In contrast, on the other hand, after the Iranian revolution, the country has emerged as a conservative republic representing the Shia Muslims.

Pakistan, a historical anti-sectarian society, became a desirable place to start proxy wars of global powers. The foundation of anti-sectarianism was already laid with the definition of Muslims; all it needed was some resources, manpower and exploitations of emotions. Pakistani lawmakers, while restricting the life of minorities and dreaming of becoming a global player, taught us how to hate ourselves.

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