While insuring victims against sectarian violence will not save lives, it is most likely to ease the economic sufferings of the victims' families who fall into poverty after the breadwinners are lost to sectarian violence. Furthermore, having the private sector directly compensate victims' families will protect them from being victimised again by a myriad of state agencies who always want a cut in the state-sponsored compensation.
Let me first explain why I propose that sectarian and religious minorities be insured as a priority. After all, the entire society has now become a victim of terrorist violence in Pakistan that may want the entire society to be insured against terrorist violence. While the cost may be a prime consideration, I also believe that unlike sectarian violence, the non-sectarian violence will soon subside in Pakistan, which makes insuring the religious and sectarian minorities a long-term priority.
Sectarian violence in Pakistan has preceded the heightened violence that erupted in 2001. In all likelihood the indiscriminate violence will dissipate once Nato forces depart from Afghanistan. The same cannot be assumed about sectarian murders, which are targeted killings of individuals for their beliefs. Also, sectarian murders did not begin with the slaughter of Prophet Muhammad's family at the banks of Euphrates in 680 CE (61 Hijra), nor will it end if the Taliban and others were to give up militancy.In fact, it is also possible that sectarian violence may worsen in Pakistan after Nato troops depart from Afghanistan. The same happened after the militancy subsided in the Indian-controlled Kashmir when militants returned to Pakistan and Afghanistan searching for new causes. Shias have always proven to be an easy target.
The sectarian murders of Shia Hazaras in Balochistan, and to some extent Turis and Bangash tribes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have a racist twist as well. Shia Hazras' unique faces set them apart from others in Balochistan, thus making them an easy target in an otherwise overwhelmingly Sunni majority province. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shias are again a tiny minority in the province, where most Pushtun tribes follow the Deobandi school of thought. Most Pushtun tribes have no Shias amongst them. I have yet to meet a Shia Waziri or Dawar. The Shias in tribal Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are mostly a sub-group amongst the Turi and Bangash tribes who are again an easy target because they are clustered along sectarian lines. Villages inhabited by Shias in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tribal areas have often come under attack where the militants use heavy artillery (an Afghan war gift that keeps on giving) to pound Shia homes and mosques.
Nothing is more illustrative of the race-driven sectarian violence in tribal KPK than the Tal-Parachinar road, where Sunni tribesmen have stopped vehicles carrying Shia tribesmen to Parachinar and have either killed them in cold blood or abducted them for ransom.
Sectarian violence cannot be dealt with force
The police and judicial system cannot address sectarian violence in Pakistan, a point I have made in an earlier essay where I demonstrated that judges and witnesses are often harassed by the accused and forced to withdraw cases or change statements. Furthermore, the judicial system is too archaic to convict the accused on forensic and circumstantial evidence. Despite phone logs and wiretaps revealing guilt, convictions are hard, if not outright impossible, to attain.
Most, if not all terrorist incubators are known to police, but the police cannot act for two reasons: Political leadership often restrains police fearing a backlash from the jihadis against its political interests and personal well-being. The murder of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and Salman Taseer, and several attacks on Aftab Khan Sherpao are a few of several such examples. Politicians' families have also been targeted in the past. Unidentified gunmen in 2010 killed Rashid Hussain, son of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister for information, Iftikhar Hussain.
The police are also a frequent target as is illustrated by the murder of Frontier's fearless FC Commandant, Siffat Ghayoor, who was also Aftab Sherpao's brother-in-law, and SSP Ashraf Marth in Punjab (1997), who was a brother-in-law of former Prime Minister Chaudhry Shujat Husain. In fact the four accused of SSP Marth's murder were acquitted by the courts after junior police officers recanted their earlier statements against the accused.