LeJ and TTP affiliated militants are vying to dent Sindh’s centuries-old spirit of coexistence through radical sectarianism

The four terrorists involved in Shikarpur Imambargah blast, who also planned the suicide attack on former MNA Dr Muhammad Ibrahim Jatoi, have been nabbed recently. The Police found huge quantity of explosive material after conducting operations against the militants. Similarly, some months ago, other terrorists were also arrested with explosive material in the district.

It is said that the terrorists involved in the Shikarpur bombing were affiliated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It is worth noting that all terrorists involved in the bombing have been apprehended from within the district and not a single one of them was from outside. Hence, the existence of a mammoth network of local terrorists, fully trained by the terrorist organizations, cannot be denied.

The main objective of suicide attacks on Shia community is to damage the centuries-old sectarian harmony established in interior Sindh and to cause chaos and disorder in the society by exacerbating sectarianism. The people of Sindh, taught by Sufis and Saints, who are peaceful and humanitarian by nature, believe in harmony and coexistence with people of all religions and sects. People of all sects have established friendly relations with one another. They have never even considered any kind of antagonism for each another. However, the sudden outbreak of religious extremism among a few persons in the society is the corollary of brainwashing by terrorist organizations.

On January 30, 2015 a suicide bombing targeted a central Imambargah during Friday prayers, in which at least 60 people were killed and 60 others injured. Jundallah, a splinter group of TTP, had claimed responsibility for the blast. Its spokesman Fahad Marwat said: “Our target was the Shia mosque... They are our enemies”.

In October, 2015, a bomb targeted a Muharram procession near Shershah Haveli in Jacobabad, which borders Shikarpur, killing at least 20 people and injuring many others. LeJ claimed responsibility for it.

Dr Muhammad Ibrahim Jatoi, affiliated with Shia sect, was targeted by suicide attacks twice. On Ashura, or the 10th of Muharram, 2010, a suicide bomber had tried to force his way inside his house where around 1,500 people had gathered for majlis. Jatoi’s private security guards shot him dead and fortunately there weren’t any casualties. A second time, during the 2013 election campaign, he was attacked by a suicide bomber, but thankfully he remained safe.

In February, 2013, Dargah Ghulam Shah Ghazi situated at village Mari was targeted in a suicide bombing, in which Gaddi Nasheen the Sufi Saint Syed Hajan Shah and two of his children were killed and three women seriously injured.

On February 20, a blast also targeted the convoy of a spiritual leader, Syed Ghulam Hussain Shah Buhkari in which his grandson Syed Shafique Shah was killed and more than eight people were injured near Jacobabad.  Furthermore, in the same district, five years ago, a huge number of NATO tankers were set on fire in two separate incidents.

Keeping in view the current situation and events from the past, it can be deduced that threat of terrorism still exists in the district. The LeJ and TTP militants seem to be active in the area and are planning attacks. The Shia leaders have been repeatedly calling for a military operation like Zarb-e-Azab against terrorists outside of North Waziristan as well. In this state of affairs any security negligence or lapse can cause immense loss of lives. The rational decision that needs to taken by the law enforcement agencies is to beef up intelligence and security to counter any potential terrorist threat. 

Shaikh Abdul Rasheed is a social activist and researcher. Follow him on Twitter

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