No Place For Shias in Today’s Pakistan

On Friday March 4, over 60 worshippers lost their lives and over 200 others were injured when a suicide attacker detonated himself inside a Shia Mosque in Peshawar’s old city neighbourhood. Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-KP) claimed the suicide bombing on its website “Today … an Islamic State fighter succeeded in assaulting a Shia Mosque in Peshawar.” This attack was the biggest terrorist activity in the city.

An investigative report in The Guardian noted “The bomber had strapped a powerful explosive device to his body, packed with 5kg (12lbs) of explosives, said Moazzam Jah Ansari, the top police official for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is the capital. The device was hidden beneath a large black shawl that covered much of the attacker’s body, according to CCTV footage seen by the Associated Press. The footage showed the bomber moving quickly up a narrow street toward the mosque entrance. He fired at the police protecting the mosque before entering.”

While Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet condemned the attack, it is accepted by most analysts that the policies of the Pakistani state over the decades are responsible for the rise in radical Islamism within Pakistan, and especially the attacks against both Muslim and non-Muslim minorities.

Since the 1980s, Shias in Pakistan have been attacked, killed, and targets of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. Pakistan’s Shia community has been targeted over the years by Sunni extremists, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba and now IS-KP.

The irony of Pakistan, whose founding father Muhmmad Ali Jinnah was a Shia, is that it was founded 75 years ago on grounds that Muslims of South Asia needed a home of their own. Today, only Sunni Punjabi Muslim men appear to be safe in Pakistan, no one else.

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