ISLAMABAD: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), issues a fact sheet on sectarian violence in Pakistan.
This fact sheet chiseled out under the Pakistan Religious Violence Project, an undertaking of the USCIRF, took into account the publicly reported incidents of violence against religious communities in Pakistan during the past 18 months.
A synopsis of this fact sheet is as follows:
In the last 18 months, 203 incidents of sectarian violence in Pakistan resulted in 1,800 casualties, including 717 deaths, of which 635 were Shia.
Sectarian and religious violence in Pakistan was in full swing between January 2012 and June 2013, the Shia community has been the worst victim of these incidents, disclosed a detailed Fact Sheet issued by US.
The report stated that while Shias are more vulnerable of becoming victims of suicide bombings and targeted shootings, the previously pitiable environment for Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadis continued to get worse, with a number of registered violent incidents occurring against members of these communities.
“The Shia bore the brunt of attacks from militants and terrorist organisations, with some of the deadliest attacks occurring during holy months and pilgrimages,” said the report.
Christians, the second biggest religious community of Pakistan, were attacked 37 times in which 11 Christians were killed and 36 injured. They were also attacked in targeted shootings that claimed 3 lives, while 5 Christian girls were also raped.
Since January 2012, the Shia community was attacked 77 times, killing 635 members and injuring 834. They also suffered 18 incidents of bomb blasts and 46 times witnessed targeted shootings.
Ahmadis witnessed 54 attacks including 1 bomb blast and 26 incidents of targeted shootings in which 22 Ahmadis were killed and 39 injured.In terms of rape victims, Pakistani Hindus are the worst victims as per the report. In 18 months around 7 incidents were reported in which Hindu girls were raped. Not this alone, but 2 Hindus died and 4 were injured in 16 attacks. Besides that 3 Hindus were killed in targeted shootings, the report went on to add.
The Pakistani Sikhs, a minority within a minority, was attacked 3 times in which one was killed.Some other groups of different minorities were also attacked 16 times, in which 46 people died and 195 people were injured.
The Project’s conclusion, sketches a bleak and testing portrait for the new government, as appreciating the Pakistani Prime Minister stating.”It was positive that the Prime Minister raised concerns about religious minorities during his maiden speech before the National Assembly, as well as travelled to Quetta after a recent bombing targeting Shia and tasked his government to act. However, concrete, resolute action is needed to ensure that perpetrators of violence are arrested, prosecuted and jailed. To stem the rising tide of violent religious extremism, groups and individuals responsible for attacks on religious communities must be punished,” stated the report.
“The climate of impunity threatening all Pakistanis, regardless of their faith, also is exacerbated by the much abused blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws,” stated the report of the project.