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An active threat: Renewed sectarian violence

May 30, 2013

AS two events demonstrated on Tuesday, the incoming governments will have their hands full dealing with the threat of sectarian militancy. In Peshawar, at least three people were killed when a motorcycle bomb went off in Imamia Colony, a Shia-dominated area. Though no one has claimed the attack, there are strong indications the bombing had sectarian motives. Meanwhile in Karachi, a Shia lawyer, together with his two young sons, was gunned down as the man was dropping his children to school. This is the latest in a chilling trend in which killers have targeted members of a family. Earlier this month, another Shia father and son, also lawyers, were gunned down in the same area of the metropolis.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says 69 people have been killed in sectarian attacks in Karachi between January and April. In Peshawar, over a dozen victims have fallen prey to sectarian targeted killings since the beginning of the year; KP police have failed to make a breakthrough in any of these cases. The range of the threat shows that efforts are required at both the provincial and national levels to counter sectarian militancy. Clamping down on such violence will be a formidable challenge for the PTI-led KP government. Imran Khan has criticised groups like Lashkar-i-Jhangvi in the past; it is now time for his party to take action against sectarian killers in the province. Meanwhile, the previous PPP-led Sindh government completely failed to control sectarian violence in Karachi. It is hoped the PPP vastly improves its record this time around. Sectarian violence in the metropolis seemed to dip when the caretaker set-up took over and some Sindh police officials have said the ‘targeted operations’ initiated against criminals yielded results. If this is the case such opera-tions must continue in order to bring sectarian militants to justice. On the national level, all newly empowered political forces must forge consensus and a plan to tackle the monster of sectarian militancy.