Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

Sectarian Conflicts: A Dominant Threat to Pakistan's Internal Security

Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

Sectarian Conflicts: A Dominant Threat to Pakistan's Internal Security

Article excerpt


Pakistan was created on the name of religion and religion played significant role to create unity among the Muslims of Sub-Continent. Muslims of Sub-Continent wanted to get a separate home land where they would be able to spend their lives according to Islamic teachings. Soon after the creation of Pakistan various racial, linguistic, and regional realities started to emerge more forcefully on the political scene of Pakistan. Ideology remained unable to unite different segments of the society. Various sects of society started to assert themselves on the basis of different issues and the issue of sectarianism emerged as a significant issue. The attitude of religious clergy towards the non-Muslim minority created a lot of doubts in the hearts of non-Muslim minority regarding their security in a Muslim state. Pakistan emerged on the basis of Islam but no observer could deny the fact that under the veneer of religious unity there was a bewildering heterogeneity of customs, regional cultures, language and ethnicity. It was hoped that the bond of religion would supersede other bonds (for example, regional, linguistic, and cultural) among Pakistanis.

Definition of sectarianism

Before going into detail it is deemed necessary to define the term sectarianism;

The word sectarian means "of or concerning a sect; bigoted or narrow minded in following the doctrine of one's sect". According to Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus the term sect means "a body of people subscribing to religious doctrine different from those of an established church from which they have separated" ( The word sectarianism is derived from sect, which means body of people subscribing to views divergent from those of others within the same religion. (Miss Shaista Vine & Tabinda Razi, Sectarianism in Pakistan, in Current Affairs Digest Book 92, April 2002 P.57) Sectarianism means affiliation to a particular sect or group, especially in a very narrow minded way. In sociological studies "sect is perceived as the religious study which simply means a group which split from the mainstream religion on the basis of a doctrine"

Sectarian conflict may refer to general philosophical, political or armed conflict between different schools of thought such as between Sunni and Shia Muslims .

Sectarian conflict in simple words can be defined as any violent conflict between different sects of the same religion such as conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims. The phenomenon of sectarianism has potential to create conflicting situation in a multiple society like Pakistan because people from different sects remain stick with their specific beliefs and do not show any flexibility in their attitude with others. Sectarian strife is not only there among the Muslims of Pakistan but it can also be found in Christianity with Catholic verses Protestants, Zionism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Sectarian conflict is not a new phenomenon in state of Pakistan especially in the province of Punjab, which is considered as a breeding ground of antagonism between Shia and Sunni sects for decades. During 1990s the sectarian conflict in Sahiwal, Jhang Sargodha, Lahore, Multan, Vehari and Shorkot created grave concerns for the law enforcement agencies. Jhang had witnessed severe waves of sectarian conflict. Islamist militancy with the help of local sectarian forces of Southern Punjab may be able to make serious inroads. The Pakistani Taleban have become successful to form an alliance with these sectarian groups and had launched terrorist attacks in different parts of Punjab during 2009-10. Madrassas in Southern Punjab have been involved to train fighters for militant groups. Different militant groups like Lashkae-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad have a strong presence in Southern Punjab. (Lieven, 2012:291) The menace of sectarian conflicts is not limited to Punjab only it can be observed throughout the Pakistan. …

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