Pakistan’s 65-year history of missed opportunities seized by other rapidly developing nations like Korea, Turkey, etc, tainted by military coups, political infighting and a form of crony capitalism that has stifled its economy were enough of the destablisers, and when it seemed like it could not go any worse, the cat dragged in the leviathan of religious and ethnic terrorism. The barbaric acts of cruelty against Christians, Ahmedis and in particular Shiites this country has witnessed over the past few years, all in the name of religion and God, can bring the likes of Ivan the Terrible and Attila the Hun to tears.
Literati and commentators blame the former military dictator General Ziaul Haq for making it a state policy to fund and arm Wahabi groups in the 1980s. It is an established fact that the general used these organisations primarily against the Shiites at the behest of the state financier, Saudi Arabia. Shiites had natural sympathies with Iran because of religious and emotional proximity and there was no doubt that Saudi Arabia was supporting Wahabi groups through General Zia to kill Iran’s support in Pakistan, and hence Pakistan became a battleground for the war between two states striving for regional hegemony. In retrospect, this war did not actually start in the 1980s as per the famous Indian writer, M J Akbar. He states the animosity between the Sunni majority and the Shia minority in the subcontinent dates back to the Mughal era where the Mughal Emperor Humayun became a converted Shiite when he returned from Iran along with Shia preachers, which resulted in a mass conversion of Hindus to Shiite Islam. In later years, Aurangzeb persecuted Shiites, who by that time had grown in numbers. In short, this animosity has always been embedded in the very fabric of the subcontinent for hundreds of years, but always remained confined to discussions and dialogues among the religious clergy, popularly known as ‘manazara’, and were never militant.