mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
God Wars in Pakistan
Another Shia-Sunni Fault Line Opens Up

Sectarian tensions in Pakistan have gone from bad to worse ever since riots broke out in Rawalpindi a month ago. On Sunday, a Shia cleric was murdered in Lahore. The killing was seen as a response to the assassination of a Sunni leader of a religious party known for its anti-Shia rhetoric. And on Wednesday, three people were killed as a suicide bomber tried to break into a Shia mosque in Rawalpindi.

The Pakistani government has called for calm, and has heightened security around Shia mosques, churches and temples, but the attacks continue. The sectarian tensions in Pakistan mimic the increasingly lethal tensions in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. But Pakistan’s sectarian troubles are more a product of a radicalized society, and less a backlash to the geopolitical machinations of the region. Thousands of seminaries all over the country, funded by Saudi petrodollars, churn out Salafist radicals who see Shias as heretics. Organizations that fall under the Pakistani Taliban, like Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Sahaba, have targeted Shias in suicide bombings and targeted killings, particularly in urban centers that have large Shia populations. High-casualty attacks like the bombings in predominantly Shia neighborhoods in Karachi and Quetta have underlined what has been a sustained campaign to terrorize the community.

In response, loud, equally radical Shia groups have also emerged that have been carrying out revenge attacks on prominent Sunni leaders, causing a spiral that has lately threatened to veer out of control. Iraq seems to be in danger of falling back into a bloody, sectarian civil war, and Syria is already in one. To say that nuclear-armed Pakistan going down a similar path would be a very bad thing would be an understatement.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I like the “Divide and Conquer” strategy, as long as Muslims are using their resources fighting each other, they will have fewer resources to use in attacking us. We should do what we can to focus them on each other and prolong the fight as long as possible.

    • Carey J

      Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake.” Any Muslim who is killing other Muslims is a Muslim who is not killing Westerners.

  • David Heller

    In a perfect world I agree with you.

    In a less than perfect world, someone on the butt-end of the fight will fling a nuc at a 3rd party in order to change the subject.

    It’s a less than perfect world.

    • xbox361

      Balance of power and countries acting in their own self interest trumps American cop.

  • TommyTwo

    “To say that nuclear-armed Pakistan going down a similar path would be a very bad thing would be an understatement.”

    Now, now. The fact that the Shia minority of Pakistan is oppressed and might actually be fighting back is not in itself so worrying. Of course, if in the future it were to appeal to some hypothetical neighboring Shia country with certain nuclear capabilities of its own, that might indeed be a not particularly good thing. But such a scenario is pure fantasy. I trust our wise leaders to head off any such far-fetched eventuality.

  • ljgude

    The last time the west had a death match between religious factions was the 30 Years War in the 17th century. Many parts of Western Europe were utterly devastated, whole populations severely reduced. In other words a lot like Syria today, Iraq yesterday and Pakistan tomorrow. In one sense the Muslim world is still living in earlier times, but they are also living in modern times with modern weapons including nukes. So we have a perverse combination of religious war with modern means. Given the thorough destruction of Europe in two world wars I don’t see Middle East surviving the century intact.

  • John Adams

    Well, the more the various factions of islam spend time killing each other, the less time they have plotting to attack us ; so let them kill each other.
    Then let India (a nation hated more by the pakis than they hate the USA) worry about pakistan .
    To think for one second that pakistan or saudi is an “ally” of the USA , or ever was, is delusional.

  • xbox361

    Not sure we have a thing to worry about in the US. Let them kill each other. If they get a rocket, blast their launch sites.
    India is the counterweight to Pak. Vietnam, Taiwan, S Korea, Russia, India, Japan will contain China. Eff them all.

  • Eisha tausif

    One cannot just force someone to change their religion.

  • Eisha tausif

    This is very common these days killing one person because he was of another religion. God has said that you cannot force anyone to change their religion. In Surah kafiroon it is said that “For you your religion and for me my religion”. Majorities in a certain area push / force, or kill the minorities in that area. Insecurity and fear pushes minorities even further apart. Each is forced to move to a locality where they are the majority in order to protect themselves. Minorities are being targeted around the country.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service