"Growing Islamic State Influence in Pakistan Fuels Sectarian Violence"
Publication: Terrorism Monitor (Jamestown Foundation)
Volume: 13 Issue: 13 June 26, 2015
A seemingly organized sectarian violence against Pakistan’s beleaguered minority Shi’a community has plumbed new depths in recent months with a series of bombings of Shi’a worshipping places and targeted killings that have left over 170 people dead so far in 2015. Previously the anti-Shi’a armed campaign was spearheaded by banned Sunni militant groups like Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) and Jundallah, which all are closely affiliated with Taliban conglomerate the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP–the Pakistani Taliban). However, with the arrival of Islamic State in Pakistan’s jihadist landscape, there has been a spike in the volume of anti-Shi’a violence, partly as a result of tafkiri jihadi groups like LeJ or Jundallah entering into alliance with the strongly anti-Shi’a Islamic State.
The scale of anti-Shi’a attacks in recent years can be judged from a study by the Islamabad-based Jinnah Institute, which found that a total of 1,905 people from the country’s Shi’a community, including from the Hazara and Ismaili subsects, died either in bomb blasts or targeted gun attacks from 2012 up until May 2015 (Press TV, June 6).  At least three incidents of 2015 prove this disturbing trend. On January 30, a suicide bombing struck the Shi’a Karbala-e-Maula mosque (a.k.a. Karbala Imambargah—a Shi’a prayer hall) situated in the Shikarpur district of Sindh, killing more than 60 people (Express Tribune, January 30). Two weeks later, on February 13, another anti-Shi’a attack involving gunmen and suicide bombers took place in Hayatabad in Peshawar, killing 21 Shi’a while they were offering Friday prayers (Dawn [Karachi], February 14). Exactly three months later, over 40 Ismaili Shi’as were killed when armed militants opened fire on a bus on May 13 in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Karachi (Dawn [Karachi], May 14).