Pakistan was created as a country for all Muslims, Shia and Sunni. Unlike Iran, where the constitution states that Twelver Jaafri Shia Islam is the state religion, Pakistan’s constitution makes Islam as the state religion. But like any other provision in Pakistan’s constitution which guarantees freedom and equality, Pakistan violates this one too. Pakistan has increasingly become a haven for Sunni violence and discrimination against other religions. This does exclude persecuting fellow Muslims who happen to be Shias.
In order to understand the Sunni-Shia animosity one has to go back to the provisions of the Quran. The Shias are those who believe that Ali, the relative of Prophet Muhammad, should have been the first caliph but Sunnis disagree saying that popular vote should decide the caliph. Shia literally means the followers of Ali (Shiat Ali). The conflict between the two strands of Islam dates back to the seventh century and is a source of intense conflict today from, Saudi Arabia to Iran to Pakistan.
This systemic oppression of Shias in Pakistan takes several forms. One of them is Pakistan’s extremely biased and sectarian judicial system, its violent security apparatus that gives justice not to the persecuted but to the criminals and the organizations carrying out genocidal killings. The education system that has removed references to Shia school of thought and the media refuses to cover the atrocities committed against Shia Muslims and distort the genocidal killings as sectarian or as non-religious accidental killings.
There is no compensation by the government of Pakistan to the victims of the targeted killings of the Shia because to do that would be to accept the failure of the system to bring to justice the perpetrators of genocide. The collaboration of the judicial system, the educational apparatus and the media in a conspiracy against Pakistan’s Shia population is one of the worst instances of persecution against a religious minority anywhere in the world.
This is not all, according to a report by the Jinnah Institute in May 2016; Shia Muslims in Pakistan have been victims of increasing levels of violence. 1,957 Shias were killed and 2,516 injured in 872 acts of violence between Jan 2012 to Dec 2015 with Sindh and Karachi remaining the worst affected areas. On average 490 Shias were killed and 630 injured. Breaking down further, on average 70 attacks befell every month on the community and on average 160 were killed, 209 injured every month from Jan 2012 to Dec 2015. There were 22 acts of bomb blasts at processions held by Shias, killing at least 268 injuring 584 in the last four years.
Pakistan is home to 40 million Shias, the second largest concentration after Iran. Most of them have been living in their traditional home even before the Partition. But they have been facing systematic discrimination and repression a few years after the creation of Pakistan. The situation has gotten worse and there are no signs of improving.