Pakistan’s Blasphemy Obsession Leads to Sectarianism



Pakistan has one of the worst blasphemy laws, a terrible record on minority (ethnic and religious) rights, and a brutal history of sectarian conflict. Over the last few decades thousands of Shias, pilgrims to doctors, intellectuals to children, have been killed.

With the upcoming Muharram processions there is fear once again that these will be used by groups to conduct targeted attacks against members of the Shia community. As a story in Dawn states “The bloodshed intensified in the 1990s, and perhaps saw its bloodiest phase in the 2000s, with the rise of the Pakistani Taliban and other sectarian groups. In December 2009, an Ashura procession in Karachi became the target of a suicide explosion, killing around 40 people. In September 2010, three explosions targeting a procession in Lahore led to the death of another 40 people; two days later, another 73 were killed in a bomb blast targeting an Al Quds procession. In February 2012, 18 predominantly Shia passengers on a bus travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit-Baltistan were separated on the basis of their identity and shot dead by militants dressed in army uniform. In May 2013, the Hazara community of Quetta was ferociously targeted, with 115 people killed on Alamdar Road; and another 110 killed a month later in Hazara Town. Clearly, the authorities cannot afford to let down their guard even for a moment during Muharram.”