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A history of religious violence


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An ethnic Hazara man is comforted by community members, after he arrived to the local hospital in Quetta to find a family member shot dead, May 6, 2011. – Reuters Photo

The killing of 13 Shia Muslims in Quetta today is a grim reminder of how intolerant Pakistan has become when it comes to religious freedom. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s report ‘State of Human Rights in 2010’, 418 people have been killed in various attacks on Muslim sects, including 211 in suicide bombing last year. Here's a look at some of the incidents that have claimed the lives of Pakistanis over the last two decades.


12 members of a Shia family were killed during a Majlis. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) leader Malik Ishaq was arrested but was released later due to lack of evidence.

The same year, Malik Ishaq was alleged to have bombed the Iranian culture centre in Multan. Eight people were killed. 1n 2006, Ishaq was released due to lack of evidence.

28 October, 2001

A Protestant Church was attacked in Bahawalpur, Punjab. The incident left16 dead, all Christians except one, and 6 injured.

26 February, 2002

At least 11 Shia worshipers were killed by indiscriminate firing by a group of masked gunmen at the Shah-i-Najaf Mosque in Rawalpindi.

17 March, 2002

Yet another attack on a Protestant church with in a span of six months left five persons, including a US diplomat's wife and daughter, dead and 40 others injured.

7 May 2002

Noted religious scholar Prof Dr Ghulam Murtaza Malik, his driver and a policeman were shot dead by two gunmen in Iqbal Town, Lahore.

9 August, 2002

Four people were killed after terrorists attacked a Church located in the premises of the Taxila Christian Hospital, in Taxila, northern Punjab.

25 September, 2002

Gunmen stormed the offices of a Christian welfare organisation in Karachi, tied seven office workers to their chairs before shooting each in the head at close range.

25 December, 2002

An attack on the Presbyterian Church in Daska, near Sialkot left three young girls dead.

8 June, 2003

11 Pakistani police trainees were shot dead in what is believed to have been a sectarian attack on Sariab Road, Quetta, as they all belonged to Hazara Shi'a branch of Islam. Another nine were reported wounded.[27]

June 8, 2003

12 Shia Hazara police cadets were gun downed in Quetta. LJ claimed responsibility of the attack.

4 July, 2003

At least 47 people were killed and 150 injured in an attack on an Imambargah in Quetta.

28 February, 2004

An apparent suicide bomber was killed and three worshipers were injured in an attack on Imambargah in Satellite Town, Rawalpindi.

March 2, 2004

42 persons were killed and more than 100 wounded when a procession of the Shia Muslims was attacked in Liaquat Bazaar in Quetta.

7 May, 2004

A suicide bomber attacked an Imambargah in Karachi, killing at least 15 worshipers. More than 100 people were also injured, 25 of them critically in the attack.

14 May, 2004

Six members of Shia family were killed in Lahore.

30 May, 2004

A senior Deobandi religious scholar and head of Islamic religious school Jamia Binoria, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, was gunned down in his car while leaving his home in Karachi.

31 May, 2004

A suicide bomber blew up the Imambarghah Ali Raza mosque in Karachi in the middle of evening prayers, killing 16 worshipers and injuring 35. Two people were killed in riots over the mosque attack and Shamzai's assassination.

8 August, 2004

Eight people were killed and over 40 others injured when two bombs exploded in quick succession near the Jamia Binoria Madressah, Karachi.

21 September, 2004 Three members of Shia family were gunned down in Dera Ismail Khan. It was alleged Sipah-e-Sahaba members were involved in the killings.

1 October, 2004

A suicide bombing left 25 people dead and dozen injured at an Imambargah in Sialkot.

7 October, 2004

A bomb blast left 40 people dead and wounded over 100 during a Sunni (Deobandi) rally to commemorate Maulana Azam Tariq, assassinated leader of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, in Multan.

10 October, 2004

A suicide bombing at an Imambargah in Lahore killed four people and left eight others injured.

8 January, 2005

At least 10 people have been killed in sectarian violence in the northern Pakistani city of Gilgit.

19 March, 2005

At least 35 people were killed and many injured when a Sipah-e-Sahaba terrorist exploded himself at the shrine of Pir Rakhel Shah in remote village of Fatehpur in Jhal Magsi District, Balochistan. The dead included Shia and Deobandi devotees.

27 May, 2005

20 people were slaughtered and 82 wounded due to a suicide bombing at the annual Shia Muslims congregation at the shrine of Bari Imam in Islamabad.

31 May, 2005

Six bodies were recovered from a KFC outlet set ablaze by an angry mob after an attack on a Shia mosque in Karachi. It was retaliation to the suicide attack on the Shia mosque in central Karachi where five people were killed and about 20 others wounded.

7 October, 2005

Eight members of the Ahmadiyya faith were killed inside a place of worship in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, Pakistan.

11 April, 2006

Over 50 people, including Sunni (Barelvi) scholars, were killed in a bomb explosion at a religious gathering on 12 Rabi-ul-Awal in Nishtar Park, Karachi.

20 February, 2009

At least 28 people were killed and more than 65 injured when a suicide bomber attacked a funeral procession in Dera Ismail Khan.

April 5, 2009

A suicide bomber detonated outside the entrance of an Imambargah in Chakwal, in Punjab province. 24 people were killed in the attack.

August 1, 2009

Seven Christians were burned alive in Gojra, Punjab. Known as the Gojra riots, the attack saw the Christian community leave town, fearing for their lives.

December 28, 2009

40 Shias were killed in an apparent suicide bombing in Karachi. The bomber attacked a Shia procession which was held to mark Ashura.

28 May 2010

86 people were killed and more than 120 were injured in nearly simultaneous attacks against two places of worship of the minority Ahmadiya community. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attacks.

September 1, 2010

In Lahore at least 35 Shias were killed and 160 unknown people injured during a procession.

September 3, 2010

Attack on a rally in Quetta killed around 53 people during another procession calling for solidarity with Palestinians.

The same day an attack on an Ahmedi place of worship left one dead in Mardan.

December 9, 2010

A mortar attack killed nine people, including women and children in Hangu.

Abu Mansoor, ‘commander’ of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Al Almi of Hangu, Kohat and Orakzai and Kurram Agencies, and claimed the responsibility for the blast.

December 13, 2010

A school bus was attacked in Peshawar as Shias marked Ashura. A boy was killed and 5 others were hurt. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the blast.

January 25, 2011

Two suicide blasts targeted Shia processions in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore as well as the major southern port city of Karachi. Fifteen people were killed in the attacks.

6 May, 2011

Six members of the Hazara Shia community were gunned down in Quetta, the responsibility of which was taken by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ).

18 May, 2011

7 Shias were gunned down in Quetta, once again LJ claimed responsibility.

September 20, 2011

Gunmen shot dead 29 Pakistani Shia pilgrims travelling to Iran. In a brutal assault, gunmen ordered pilgrims off their bus, lined them up and assassinated them in a hail of gunfire in Mastung.

Comments (47) Closed

Hassan Oct 04, 2011 03:35pm
nauseating and disgusting religious fanatics .. intolerant people .. makes me sick
Tamilselvan Oct 04, 2011 03:39pm
Is this the tolerance preached by religion or are these fringes of the society? We hope they are the latter. These people are giving your religion a very bad name around the world and no wonder they are takinig Pakistan back to stone age. Live and let live
Kashif Oct 04, 2011 04:55pm
Dont know what to say...what have we become now, I see half of the problems in Pakistan are due to the so called fake moulvis who have hijacked religion in our country. If we ever have a fair goverment, all muslims groups, orgs should be banned. There should be one committee of scholars that should give or allow new madrassas on their approval. Now days anyone who has beared can start talking about religion and thinks he knows better than all. May Allah help us and has mercy on us.
Qasim Saqlain Oct 04, 2011 05:29pm
Lahskare Jhangvi and their followers are a disgrace to humanity let alone Islam. Killing innocent Shias and Christians mercilessly thinking they are doing a favour to Islam is a joke beyond belief!! But then it's happening in Pakistan where we don't raise our voices against injustice until we are a victim of it ourselves, our conscience died ages ago and I can only dread our future..
Naved Oct 04, 2011 05:34pm
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist have always been found in shia's massacre. The history has proved that all of these terrorists are Pakistanis and so called "good Muslims". Terming this strife as 'sectarian' violence is a joke. Its the genocide of shia Muslims. On the name of religion nobdoy is killing sunnis in-discriminatory. All shia's are target of these Lashars without any discrimination. How come there will be peace in Pakistan when 22% percent of Pakistani shia population is a target. Those who think only US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a solution of terrorism in Pakistan, they are living in fool's paradise. Those who are killing innocent people plus who are supporting them morally and financially are part of the problem and enemy of Islam and Pakistan.
Ali Syed Oct 04, 2011 06:42pm
This timeline is rather brief, particularly with regards to events in the late 1990s.
Omar Khattab Faruqui Oct 04, 2011 06:46pm
Killing and killing innocent people just because they don't share the same religious beliefs as killers especially in the name of the "Religion of Peace" is a disgust to Islam and a huge setback to Pakistan. When will this intolerance stop? We are destroying ourselves!!! If you claim to follow the Holy Prophet (SAW) then do what he (SAW) did. May Allah guide us to the right path and make us tolerant and patient.
Hasan Oct 04, 2011 09:24pm
You missed out the 1953 Anti-Ahmadiyya riots causing the first marshal law in Lahore. Also missed the 1974 Anti-Ahamdiyya riots.
amit Oct 04, 2011 11:32pm
Why still you people are not being able to see the root cause? What you sow that you reap.
Mohammad Umer Oct 05, 2011 12:12am
Religious fanaticism among ordinary people is the crux of the problems, especially terrorism, in Pakistan. Killing people just because of the disagreement on confession is barbaric and has no place in contemporary times. The above article does not include the number of Ahmedis victimized in targeted killings.
Hadi Oct 05, 2011 01:23am
Pakistan government, military and judiciary. Please wake up or you will be responsible equally in this destruction.
Yusuf Al-Kafir Oct 05, 2011 01:33am
Tragic, to say the least. So many lives lost. So many left with life-changing, life-shattering injuries. So much potential and promise squashed because of, put bluntly, a difference of opinions.
MANISH Oct 05, 2011 01:59am
Humanity is the biggest religion as human mind always knows what is the right course of action according to time place and person. Religions or any other system if doesnot have resilience to change according to changes of situation then the conflict of interest appear. the people who believe in the change and resilience should be forthcoming to voice their views as that is their responsibility as a human being. manish.
Axel Grealy Oct 05, 2011 03:20am
They are doing what he did - killing!
malik Oct 05, 2011 06:36am
Thanks for sharing all this data. It is so horrifying and terrible. As long we have all these lashkars running amuck in the name of religion this bloodshed will continue. The sad thing no one wants to do anything about it. Anchors and tv hosts talk about drones but no one talks about these innocent people.
Yawar Oct 05, 2011 08:16am
I cant understand how these people that encourage or commit such horrific acts think they will receive salvation.
Kifayat Shah Oct 05, 2011 09:12am
This is just because our whole nation is sleep.particularly i would like to point those who are one of the main reason of discrimination.they demotivate or motivate our youth against other sects or religions.
Merc Oct 05, 2011 09:54am
The general universal rule is live and let live. But here every thing is the opposite.
larry Oct 05, 2011 10:10am
how about killing of Hindus and sikhs there is no mention here.
deb dulal dey Oct 05, 2011 10:23am
Islam, islam, Islam .. I am tired of it. I never drag Hinduism in everything we do. In fact, we only protest only when we see our religious freedom is under attack. get some fresh air brothers. Pakistan needs it badly. fresh air.
RJ Oct 05, 2011 10:26am
Utterly barbaric and disgusting - no religion stands for such actions......yet, at this very moment, some people somewhere are congratulating themselves on a job well done, fully convinced that they are doing the work of God. Why did'nt we see this coming when we started down this path thirty odd years ago?
brighton Oct 05, 2011 10:40am
pray for misguided people?If blind man follow blindman where they will go?
Ajay Oct 05, 2011 10:57am
does it make sense for Pakistani leaders to question the state of Muslim in other countries when know...
zehra Oct 05, 2011 10:58am
this is in reply to alex grealy's comment - A typical western remark steeped in ignorance and bigotry – he (pbuh) did not “kill” in the name of religion – he repeatedly pursued the path of peaceful treaties, forgiving transgressions time and again and only retaliated when terms and conditions were violated and innocent lives lost. Never did he extend the sword without extending a peaceful hand first. So please, don’t couple terrorists with Islam or with the Prophet (pbuh) - I challenge (intellectually …!!!) anyone who does so because it just isn’t possible without resorting to out-of-context or outright erroneous historical accounts.
Soman Oct 05, 2011 11:09am
Surprising you have failed to even mention the Hindus and Sikhs killed. Thousands of Hindus and Sikhs have fleed from Sindh and FATA province and applied for asylum in India. These include provincial assembly members like Ram Singh Sodho then one can imagine the plight of common Hindus. One of the first high profile minority minister to flee Pakistan was the fist Law minster appointed by Jinnah himself and Pakistan has never looked back in its persecution of minorities since.
Iftikhar Oct 05, 2011 12:00pm
What a raciest report! all non-sunni incidents are mentioned. What about bomb blasts in Sunni masjids which killed hundreds of innocent Muslims. what about Sunni scholars shot dead incidents? No doubt these are all terrorist activities.
Tariq Oct 05, 2011 12:21pm
Totally Agree. Media should be sensible while publishing such reports. Pakistan is going though a sensitive time. It is terror WAR we are going through, no one group can be blamed. In fact this is the objective for such cuel incidents. Everyone is target along with our infrastructure/economy. Frustrations are being build and Media should participate in a positive manner. They should not publish reports which are one sided and only negatives are given.
Dixit Oct 05, 2011 12:27pm
Almost all religions have their dark sides but they have come out of it with passing of time with rational thinking. If we will connect every activity with religion we can never think rationally and as a result will become obsessed, which is dangerous. Almost 95% muslim comments drag religion in them which is irritating.
Sabina Oct 05, 2011 12:37pm
We talk about USA, Afghanistan, Israel , but what are we , an heartless nation and merciless killers. percieved as one of the most dangerous nations around the world.pity!! these people dont have any religion and neither thy want any one to practise theirs peacefully. wake up people , time to change ourselves rather than looking to others
Waqas Oct 05, 2011 01:12pm
No He (PBUH) didn't, during his entire life with his words and actions he gave a message of tolerance; Conquest of Mecca is one of such example
ibraheem Oct 05, 2011 01:19pm
it is horrible in fact. whether they are sunni or shia all are muslims.all are humans.
ibraheem Oct 05, 2011 01:35pm
my dear that is what you people are doing. killing the people in all over the world.
Nazar Oct 05, 2011 02:31pm
Islam gives the message of peace,let me tell , who these people are ,whether they are muslim? even whether they are human's. I don't think so, They are frustrated people. They are worst than enemy and animals,I totally beleive we should discourge them for the sake of our bright future.Pakistan government should avoid to provide them logistic support.It is humble request.
Rizwan Oct 05, 2011 02:49pm
why have you not mentioned attacks in khyber agency on Friday prayer and on Maulana Sarfraz Naeemi???why not killing of Maulana Azam Tariq???why not D G Khan Bomb blast???why not Data Darbar and other attacks??
Sabeen Oct 05, 2011 02:59pm
18th May 2002 Owner of Agha Juice, Agha Abbas was shot and killed while at his shop in Nazimabad, Karachi.
Nasser Ali Khan Oct 05, 2011 03:29pm
The whole nation has to blame for it. We are a nation of words - golden words about Islam and all that, but no action. This makes us not Muslims but hypocrites. How come we don't see public protests about these henious crimes? It is a matter of fact that Allah will punish severely all those who have hurt human beings, His creatures. And those who do not commit such crimes, but do not stand up against these criminals have also to answer. As a Pakistani, I fully understand that what Pakistanis are suffering is from Allah and we deserve every bit of it.
Syed Oct 05, 2011 04:45pm
Rizwan, some of the things you mentioned are carried out by the same people who have been killing the shias.
Syed Oct 05, 2011 04:52pm
You are right, writer has missed out on the events that you mentioned and countless others that are happening with increasing ferocity. And if you look at them you will find out that the same group tha commited this crime is responsible for almost all of them. Remember what terorists did to Brelvi's moulana dead body in Swat? That is why it is important for all of us to confront them, it is no longer a matter of Shia alone. If not stopped they will not spare anyone.
AJ Oct 05, 2011 05:16pm
And what about all those killed in Pakistan who were not Shia or Sunni? The other types of Muslims killed and all the people of other faiths in Pakistan killed by Muslims? Are they not human too?
Advita Oct 05, 2011 05:23pm
Understanding Religion does not mean understanding the God.. Understand and appreciate that every creature is created by The Supreme Power ... One who understands the simple truth , shall protect the humans (God creativity) by giving one’s life rather than taking the life of the Human ( God's creaivity ) .... Right understanding of truth also is a God's blessing ..
Syed Oct 05, 2011 06:56pm
You are right AJ. Pakistan does need to go back to its basics, "you are free to go to your mosques, you are free to go to your temples......." and demand justice when injustice is done on fellow human being. We are brothers either in faith or as fellow human.
Mustafa Oct 05, 2011 10:02pm
Well said Kashif, Jazakallah Khair. There is a saying in Farsi "Neem Hakeem Khatra-e jaan, Neem Mullah khatra-e Eemaan" meaning: a half learned physician is a danger to life and a half learned Mullah is a danger to faith (Islam). Kindly type the following words in Google Search and you will see an article by a Pakistani Writer/journalist, in Satribune site, about the role of Mullhas in Pakistan that has lead to current situation: The MULLAH now holds the Pakistani society by the throat - Satribune
Waliyya Ward Oct 06, 2011 12:26pm
When will the government and religious authorities in Pakistan understand that the suffering of Pakistanis, both from God through earthquakes and floods and from people through conflict and crime is a direct result of their lack of obedience to God. Pakistan is the only country in the world created for and by Muslims originally. It has however become the antithesis of all that Islam stands for and that is why it suffers so much. Only returning to the high standards of truth, justice and morality that Islam demands can Pakistan be secure.
VRojapu Oct 09, 2011 06:03am
After every such incident we shed tears, wring our hands, and blame ourselves, only to repeat the cycle the next time such an event recurs. We never even think to point a finger at those actively promoting violence. The manufacturers of guns and other weapons are the only ones who stand to profit from fueling separatist violence. It's time we took a very close look at who is targeting the frustrated members in every society and inciting them to heinous crimes with the use of their products. When peace-loving citizens of Pakistan and India join hands against poverty and mental illness; when we work affectionately to lift all sections of society to a moral high ground, only then will this cycle come to a halt. I read somewhere that just because it has been dark in a room for a hundred years does not mean that it will take another hundred to bring in the light-- all it needs is the flick of a switch. Let's all find the light switch in each of our lives and turn it on.
v khan Oct 09, 2011 01:04pm
you are sooooo 100% correct!!!!!!!!!!
v khan Oct 09, 2011 01:26pm
Amen Sister!
vkhan Oct 09, 2011 01:43pm
I was wondering same thing Rizwan...Obviously not a complete list..