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Home Media Reports 2000 Sectarianism’s …
Sectarianism’s new ground

The News - Internet Edition
Wednesday, November 01, 2000 -- Sha’ban 04,1421 A.H


Sectarianism’s new ground

The latest sectarian killing can have serious diplomatic repercussions for Pakistan

The elements behind previous sectarian killings are now moving into the very sensitive realm of targeting the Ahmedis. This is the unavoidable conclusion that can be drawn from the attack on a religious gathering of Ahmedis on Monday morning. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on some 18 men who were listening to a cleric in a remote village of Ghatialian in Pasrur. Four people died on the spot while another man succumbed to his injuries in a Lahore hospital. Another dozen were injured in the attack.

This latest resurgence of sectarian terrorism, apart from having disturbing domestic repercussions, has acute international ramifications. This is so because the Ahmedi community abroad has been actively beating the drum of religious intolerance and persecution of Ahmedis in Pakistan. Pakistani missions abroad receive countless complaints, particularly from western human right groups, about this aspect of life in the country. In the light of this complex nature of the problem, the government will have to be extra cautious. Islamabad will have to take extra ordinary measures to protect the sanctity and respect of all places of worship, especially of the vulnerable religious groups.

As usual the administration has not ruled out the involvement of a foreign hand in the gruesome act to destabilise the country. A senior police officer has pointed finger at the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (Raw), which is not unreasonable considering the highly organised manner in which the crime was executed and the close proximity of the village with the eastern border. Some familiar names of outfits which have a record of such attacks against the Ahmedis, are also being mentioned. But regardless of the forces behind this attempt to rock the country by whipping up sectarian trouble, it is the government's responsibility to nab and punish the culprits and prevent further attacks of this nature. More of the similar type of incidents can give credence to the propaganda of Pakistan's detractors that it is a country prone to terrorism and violence.

The incident also brings up the old issue of ridding the society of the gun culture which is at the root of all such eruptions. The interior ministry has issued many statements about banning illegal arms and ammunition. The result is missing. One way to neutralise terrorists is to deprive them of this enhanced capacity to kill by taking their weapons away.

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