By Sajjad Shaukat
In the last few years, Pakistan has been facing suicide attacks, bomb blasts, abductions, targeted-killings ethnic violence coupled with sporadic battles of the security forces with the militants in some tribal areas and assaults on the security agencies, while, external secret agencies have also intensified sectarian terrorism in the country.
As part of new wave of sectarian terrorism, at least 20 people were killed in clashes between the extremist Shias and Sunnis after hand grenade attack on the banned organisaton Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat rally in Gilgit city on April 3 this year. The rival sects used sophisticated weapons against each other, and six buses were also set ablaze by the terrorists. In another incident, nine people were killed when unidentified Gunmen killed nine passengers after offloading them from a bus in Chilas. A curfew was imposed and the Army was called in to control the situation, while sectarian violence continued intermittently in wake of other areas of the Gilgit-Baltistan province. On February 28, this year, gunmen disguised in military uniform hauled 18 Shias off buses and shot them in the Kohistan region.
Besides, in 2012, sectarian violence has accelerated in other cities of Pakistan. As regards some terror-events, on January15 this year, some 20 Shias were wounded in a bomb blast in Rahim Yar Khan District. 26 Shias were killed on February 17 in a suicide bomb assault in Parachinar. Five persons were gunned down when a van carrying people of the Hazara community of Shias was ambushed on Spini Road in Quetta on March 28. The killings sparked violent protests and strike in the city, paralysing business and trade. Recently more people of Haza community have been targeted by the militants.
The case of Tirah Valley in Khyber agency of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is of special consideration. On March 2, 2012, 58 people were killed in a suicide bomb blast outside a Lashkar-e-Islam mosque at Tirah Valley, and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it was carried out to avenge the deaths of several Taliban fighters at the hands of the Lashkar-e-Islam last month, On March 23, Taliban again claimed credit for a suicide bomb detonated outside a Lashkar-e-Islam mosque in the Valley in Khyber, killing three militants and two civilians, while ten soldiers embraced martyrdom in clashes with the insurgents so as to stop sectarian terrorism.
Like other cities, secret agencies like American CIA, Israeli Mossad and especially Indian RAW are behind sectarian terrorism in Tirah Valley in Kyber Agency. Since 2008, intermittent fighting between Lashkar-e-Islam and Ansar-ul-Islam has claimed more than 2500 lives. Lashkar Islami is led by fanatic cleric Mangal Bagh who follows the puritanical Deobandi form of Sunni Islam and has close connections with the extremist Taliban of Afghanistan and Teherik Taliban Pakistan. Besides other areas of Pakistan, more than 3000 people died in sectarian violence in Kurram Agency, bordering Afghanistan. Its areas have been hit by fierce clashes, pitching Sunni Muslims against the minority Shia. A number of ceasefires were concluded between the warring sects with the help of government officials and the tribal Maliks, but the same proved fruitless due to the support of Afghanistan where training centers covertly established by RAW are supervising anti-Pakistan activities with the tactical support of CIA and Mossad.
It is of particular attention that the US had planned to spark a civil war between the Sunnis and Shias in wake of war on terror. In this context, a study of the Rand Corporation, titled ‘US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11’ was conducted on behalf of the then US Deputy Chief of Staff for Air Force. The report of the Rand Corporation-a leading think tank, released on December 27, 2004 advocated that Sunni-Shia sectarian division should be exploited to promote the US objectives in the Muslim World. The study indicated that a majority of the world’s Muslims are Sunni, but a significant minority, about 15 percent of the global population is Shias.
The report of the Rand Corporation was first implemented in Iraq. In this context, CIA also got the services Mossad and RAW to fuel sectarian violence in Iraq. In 2004, major terror-attacks were conducted against the Shias in Karbala and Baghdad, while US-led some countries accused Iran and Al-Qaeda for the incidents to divert the attention from the said secret agencies. Afterwards, a chain of Shia-Sunni clashes started between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis, targeting each other’s mosques through bomb blasts, suicide attacks, and killings of their religious leaders. The general masses of both the sects, which could not grasp the reality, began to blame each other’s group for the subversive activities.
After experiment in Iraq, more deadly pattern of sectarian violence and clashes was conducted in Pakistan.
In this connection, the year of 2011 witnessed a number of sectarian events. For instance, on January 25, a suicide bomber struck in the Urdu Bazaar area of Lahore, killing 10 people including a woman and three Policemen. On February 22, a prominent leader of the Shia community was shot dead by the unidentified attackers in the vicinity of Peshawar. On April 3, 51 persons were killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the shrine of Sufi Saint Ahmed Sultan in Dera Ghazi Khan. On July 28, a prayer leader of Jamia Albadar mosque, Abdul Karim Mengal, was shot dead by unknown activists in Quetta. In September, 2011, at least 26 Shia pilgrims were killed in Mastung when a group of armed men attacked a passenger bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Quetta to Iran. The main aim behind was to fuel sectarian violence in Balochistan. The banned outfit Lashkar-i-Janghvi claimed the responsibility for the attack.
In 2010, terror-related sectarian incidents continued. For example, on September 2, triple blasts killed more than 35 persons in Lahore when miscreants targeted the procession of Shias who were celebrating Hazrat Ali’s day of martyrdom. On the same day, seven people including a police constable were injured in Karachi when terrorists opened fire at the Youm-e-Ali rally. Next day, a deadly suicide attack in Quetta killed more than 55 people who participated in the rally of the Al-Quds Day. On May 28, armed assaults on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore killed more than 70 people. On July 1, in Lahore, more than 45 persons were killed by the two suicide bombers at the Data Darbar.
Similar pattern of attacks have kept on going in 2009. For example, on December 4, suicide assaulters stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi, killing 40 people. On June 12, a suicide bomber killed five people including anti-Taliban cleric Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi in Lahore.
It is mentionable that some banned religious organisations have claimed responsibility for various sectarian attacks, but it is the game of RAW and CIA which arrange a message for media from an unidentified place in order to divert the attention of people towards these groups, and sometimes towards the Taliban. Otherwise, particularly RAW is well-known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs in Pakistan.
Especially, RAW has hired the services of the Indian Muslims who are on its payroll, and these agents have joined the ranks and files of the Taliban and other sectarian groups of Pakistan. Posing themselves as staunch believers, these agents target religious leaders and places of worship in Pakistan with a view to inciting the sentiments of the people of the opponent sect. The main aim behind is to continue sectarian disturbance in Pakistan.
Although the whole Islamic world is target of Indo-Israeli plot, yet the same has intensified in case of Pakistan and Iran. It is due to the fact that Pakistan is a declared atomic country, while Iran is determined to continue its nuclear programme. In this regard, US-led some countries, especially India have been sabotaging Pak-Iranian ties covertly, while sectarian unrest is also part of their game. Notably, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and a Sunni militant group Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which get arms from RAW and CIA are responsible for many sectarian assaults on Sunnis and Shias. In the past few years, their militants with the cooperation of foreign agents also kidnapped and killed Iranian nationals in Pakistan and in the Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan. Tehran had directly accused CIA for funding of that type of terrorist attacks.
In this context, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei disclosed, “The bloody actions being committed in Iraq, Pakistan and Iran are aimed at creating a division between the Shias and Sunnis…those who carry out these terrorist actions are directly or indirectly foreign agents.”
No doubt, external secret agencies are behind sectarian terrorism, fuelled in Iraq and now in Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations