FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Attack on minorities: Tearing Pakistan's social fabric
Updated:Nov 13, 2014
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy
 
In late October, a group of militants opened fire on a bus, killing at least eight members of the Shia Hazara community, on the outskirts of Quetta, Balochistan. This was among the continuing series of targeted attacks against the community, as also against other ethno-sectarian minorities in the past few years in Pakistan.
 
In 2014 alone, there have been over 70 incidents of violence against minorities all over the country, and the death toll has crossed 200. While the government does claim to be undertaking efforts to bring the perpetrators – more often than not, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) – to justice, the increasing numbers of such attacks in the country speak of a different story.
 
At a time when the Pakistani military’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb to flush out militants is ongoing in the western regions of the country, in the rest of the country, especially in Balochistan, radical terrorists appear to be going about their business, unfettered. Violent attacks against minorities in Pakistan have not just increased and become more sophisticated, but have also expanded in their geographical areas of targeting.
 
Attacks of this nature, that were largely limited to certain areas of Balochistan, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh in 2010, have now spread to all provinces in the country, and newer areas are being targeted. In the past four years, the numbers of incidents per year have fluctuated heavily depending on other security and perceived security issues: 2010 saw 57 incidents; 2011 saw 30; 2012 witnessed the worst record after 2007, at 173; 2013 saw 128, and 2014 has so far witnessed approximately 70.
 
This phenomenon brings us to ask which of the two – organised terrorism against the state or ethno-sectarian violence by terrorists – is the primary threat to Pakistan.
 
The fact that terrorist groups not just manage to, but in fact comfortably carry out these attacks and then escape without a trace even in garrison cities is telling. It is impossible that the state isn’t party to such acts; and at the least the state is turning a blind eye, if not actively partaking in the pogroms.
 
In that context, what happens of the very logic and motivation of the creation of the country? Pakistan was founded a Homeland State for Muslims. By that logic, any act of violence against bonafide citizens of the country should be of utmost importance for the state to address. However, if that Homeland State fails to provide shelter and, on the contrary, is complicit in non-state actors’ violent attacks on minorities, does the state lose its purpose of existence or has the state turned on itself?
 
Pakistan has functioned as a full-fledged country for 67 years now. In that light, the relevance of the motivations for creating the country become inconsequential, especially because the country and its citizens have evolved a national identity of their own; and it need not necessarily have much to do with the motivations for creation. The Pakistani national identity is strong enough among the people that being born either in the country, or to the heritage, suffices.
 
This means, while technically the state’s indifference towards the sorry state of affairs of minority communities defeats the purpose of creation of Pakistan, the national identity built up over the decades will ensure that the undoing of the said legitimacy doesn’t affect the existence of the country.
 
For the most part, civilians, despite ideological differences with each other’s communities, do not partake in communal violence. Attacks on minorities are carried out by anti-state elements, that ironically, appear to be in a quid pro quo deal with the state – that uses these elements as proxies as and when needed. A case in point is the overlap in the state’s efforts against the Balochi nationalist activities and the surge in anti-Shia attacks by the LeJ in Balochistan. 
 
That the Pakistani state exercises an evidently callous attitude towards its own people by being insincere in investigating such attacks is not just disconcerting generally, but also, on a practical level, detrimental to the country.
 
The problem lies in that the state’s indifference means it has turned on its own people – making it a liability, and in fact, thus, a threat to the country’s existence. That is not to say that the state apparatus needs to go. What is needed is a change in the state apparatus’ attitude in its dealings with its own citizens, if it genuinely wants to ensure stability in the country. Trying to resolve domestic dissent via dirty deeds done dirt cheap is an extremely misinformed strategy, and this approach will come to become Pakistan’s foremost existential threat.
 
Today, these terrorist groups have a free run, banking on the fact that they won’t be apprehended. There is a need for systematic dismantling of violent groups practising anti-minority activities. The day the state decides to apprehend them by acting genuinely on Army chief General Raheel Sharif’s statement – that the real threat to Pakistan’s survival is internal and external – these groups will no longer be on the state’s leash to control.
 
The levels of consolidation, cross-country institutionalisation, and arms procurement these groups would have established by then, would be unprecedented, and the state will find it difficult to uproot them. In fact, these groups will intensify their activities across Pakistan, and Islamabad and Rawalpindi will not have the capacity to fight this problem simultaneously in all parts of the country.
 
The state needs to realise that the internal problem that needs primary attention is keeping the social fabric of the country from being desecrated. Anti-state attacks, while still an internal problem, will be easier to resolve and move on from than a gaping hole in society.
 
Straying from the founding principles of the country will otherwise come to become Pakistan’s Achilles Heel.
 
(Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy is Research Officer and Member, Editorial Board, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi. She can be contacted at southasiamonitor1@gmail.com)
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has confirmed his presence for the occasion. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, Indonesia’s Ambassador to India, Sidharto R.Suryodipuro, reminded Nilova Roy Chaudhury that the first Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations, in 1950, w
 
read-more
The words of Ho Chi Minh  “Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty” rang true for the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan when, with increasing brutality, the West Pakistani oppression spread across the land, writes Anwar A Khan from Dhaka
 
read-more
In a significant boost to New Delhi's Act East Policy, India and Japan set up the Act East Forum on Tuesday as agreed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India this year for the annual bilateral meeting that would help to focus and catalyse development in India's Northeast.
 
read-more
  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated on Friday Washington's warning that “all options are on the table” to meet North Korea's nuclear threat while offering to keep the lines of communication with Pyongyang open.
 
read-more
The 15th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China concluded in New Delhi on Monday with many nuanced takeaways embedded in the joint statement of 46 paragraphs. Reiterating that the forum “is not directed against any other country”, the statement underlined the importance of the establishment o
 
read-more
The first thing that one sees when a flight approaches New Delhi is thick smog that envelopes the city and its lack of greenery.  In almost all other major cities of India lack of greenery is the most obvious sight that one sees when approaching it by air.
 
read-more

Pakistan has agreed to allow the rupee to depreciate after holding talks with the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) on the country's economy.

 
read-more

Two major global changes in the past year; the ‘Brexit’ referendum and the advent of Donald Trump, writes Sandeep Kaur Bhatia

 
read-more

It is also imperative for India to explore other regions for markets. Its trade deficit with Latin America has been narrowing. Also, its trade with Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala has increased, ...

 
read-more
Column-image

Over the last 25 years, India's explosive economic growth has vaulted it into the ranks of the world's emerging major powers. Long plagued by endemic poverty, until the 1990s the Indian economy was also hamstrung by a burdensome regulat...

 
Column-image

Title: A Ticket to Syria; Author: Shirish Thorat; Publisher: Bloomsbury India: Pages: 254; Price: Rs 399

 
Column-image

Gorichen, a majestic peak in the Eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 22,500 feet, is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh. Beautiful to look at and providing a fantastic view from the top, it is extremely tough climb for mountaineers.

 
Column-image

It is often conjectured if the reason for long-standing conflicts and insurgencies, in the developing world, especially South Asia, is not only other powers fishing in troubled waters but also the keenness of arms industries, mostly Western, to...

 
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699