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The Specter Of Sectarianism Looms Closer

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The Muslim Ummah has been divided on the tumultuous Shia-Sunni question for ages. There have been instances of blood being spilt over this issue on multiple occasions in Muslim history. Contemporarily, the battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the dominance of Middle East contains sectarianism in its roots.

Pakistan has also been quite vulnerable to the sectarian issue. In previous decades, the country has witnessed some horrific incidents on account of this particular problem.

On September 12, a huge rally was held in Karachi by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) in response to some disparaging remarks about historic Islamic figures made by certain Shia clerics during Ashura processions. Moreover, at least 42 cases pertaining to blasphemy were registered across the country in a single month where most of the accused belong to the Shia community. It is also alarming to suddenly see wall chalking coming up in many prominent cities of the country, with hate-filled slogans about the Shia community.

All in all, it seems that a battleground is being prepared for a new bloodbath to take place.

Amidst the prevailing crisis in the country, the incumbent government has failed to formulate effective policy on the aggrieved situation of law and order. It seems that the country is about to plunge into a sectarian rift yet again.

Many conspiracy theorists will try to portray foreign involvement in this issue, but it is necessary to understand that when the enemy is within the ranks, outsiders are merely supporters or spectators.

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In fact, the government needs to play very cautiously on the foreign level, as this sectarian rift may get fueled by the decades of rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. A balancing policy structured around national interests will be a more effective line to take than continuing with the previous policies of appeasing the warlords of the region.

Pakistan is already facing severe economic and political crisis. The sectarian question has now appeared on the horizon to add to the tally. Fiery oratory from religious zealots can only be expected to raise tensions rather than resolving them. It seems that we are headed that way.

It is time to improve the law and order situation in the country and to establish the writ of the state. The people of the country should stand united and consider it their duty to protect the remnants of the cultural ethos. Further damage to the social fabric of the country will have deleterious consequences for the whole society.

The prolongment in the sectarian war will bring no benefit to either religion or the nation. On the contrary, both of them will be suffer badly. Sectarian wars have always intensified the existing socio-economic and political problems in the country. It cannot be expected to be any different this time.

The nation has already witnessed a lot of bloodshed on its soil. It should not be made to endure more. We all must come together to cultivate a culture of religious harmony, and not that of hate, suspicion, violence or revenge.

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Naya Daur