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Where Pakistan Fits…

September 22, 2011

The Combatting Terrorism Center at Westpoint (CTC) has an excellent new paper which delves into the threat that Pakistan poses from its Shi’a branch of Islam.  The CTC puts out some great material.  Here are a few highlights from the Executive Summary:

Before the arrival of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1977, the relationship between Pakistan’s Shia and Sunni communities was mostly amicable. But Pakistan’s fateful involvement in the Afghan-Soviet war of the 1980s, General Zia-ul-Haq’s controversial ‘Islamization’ policies, and a sense of Shia empowerment in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 had the combined effect of limiting the Shia’s freedom to practice their religion and challenging their loyalty to Pakistan. Those developments also contributed to the persecution of many Shia at the hands of a number of militant anti-Shia organizations.


Pakistani Shia perceive the rising trend of sectarian attacks as a major threat to their identity—a vulnerability compounded by the failure of traditional Shia political movements to provide effective leadership. Whether the Shia will adopt a militant posture as a response to anti-Shia violence remains an open question.


Western analysts can no longer afford to ignore the growing potential for sectarian violence in Pakistan, for uncontrolled sectarian violence can destabilize Pakistan and the region at large.

A destabilized Pakistan only benefits the Pakistani Taliban and/or the Haqqani Network which, in turn, benefits the majority of mainstream Muslim fighters.  Additionally, as the Muslim Brotherhood continues to work with Pakistan, I would expect them to benefit from this instability.

Read the whole paper here.  More posts from this article as I digest it further.

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