WASHINGTON, July 5, 2013 — The Chief of Afghanistan’s Army, General Sher Mohammad Karimi, accused the Pakistani government of directly controlling the terrorist organization known as the Taliban, just as Taliban allies launched a massive attack against Pakistan’s Shi’ite Muslims that took place in the city of Quetta this week.
The attack drew international attention, and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) immediately released a statement:
“The new Pakistani government must take resolute action against militant organizations that carry out acts of violence against religious groups and arrest and prosecute individuals involved in mob attacks against minorities,” said USCIRF Chair Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett. “Allowing violence to occur without holding killers accountable increases the climate of impunity that threatens all Pakistanis. Prime Minister Newaz Sharif needs to act swiftly.”
Pakistan denies the allegations. However, evidencing the General’s accusations is a recent proposal by Pakistan, according to Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Ershad Ahmadi, where the government of Afghanistan would share power with the Taliban. According to Ahmadi, the suggestion was made during a meeting between Pakistan’ National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghanistan’s Ambassador Umer Daudzai.
Reiterating the accusation by General Karimi, Minister Ahmadi said “We believe this federalism is a means for the Pakistanis to achieve what they could not achieve through their proxy [the Taliban] on the battlefield…”
According to BBC, in the latest attack “At least 30 died when a suicide bomber targeted a Shia mosque in Quetta, and 18 were killed in an attack targeting security forces in Peshawar.” This attack is a continuation in nearly constant attacks against the country’s Shi’ite Muslims, Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, and ethnic minorities.
Lashar I Jhangvi a terrorist group based in Pakistan, and on the United States list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, claimed responsibility for the strike. Lashkar I Jhangvi has been responsible for a large majority of attacks in the region, pledging to eliminate Shi’ite Muslims, whom the group views as “infidels.” The group maintains strong ties to Taliban forces throughout the region.
According to the UMAA Advocacy 2013 Annual Report on Pakistan “[Lashkar i Jhangvi] reportedly trained along with the Taliban and other Deobandi terrorists from Pakistan at the same training camps.”
Newly elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif failed to take the attack seriously, advising security forces to take this as a “test case” according to the Pakistan Daily Times. In shifting responsibility away from his own failures, Sharif continued “The administration here needs to bring improvement in their governance and the authorities in police need to realise their duty.”
Critics have long viewed the Pakistani government as soft on terrorism, with Sharif being no exception. The country has been plagued with increasingly brazen attacks in every major city in the country, while security forces have continually failed to cub the violence.
USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report also “underscores the fact that Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries that the U.S. government does not currently designate as ‘countries of particular concern.’ In addition to chronic violence, Pakistan’s laws, such as the blasphemy law and anti-Ahmadi laws, violate international human rights standards.”
Groups such as Lashkar I Jhangvi, and its affiliates, Sipah e Sahaba and the Pakistani Taliban, have publicly stated their hatred for Shi’ite Muslims, Ahmedis, Christians, and Hindus. The animosity is not based, however, on long standing rivalries or accusations of violence, but instead is based upon an ideological agenda that few understand. As attacks expand against a plethora of religious groups and ethnic minorities, experts state that their actions cannot be referred to as “sectarianism.”
”Why they are killing us? They are killing our younger brothers, girls and women. Why? What is the reason? Everyone here is very sad, the government is not doing anything, not arresting the culprits,” said Abdul Hakim, a relative of one of the victims of the Quetta attack.
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