Religious persecution in Pakistan is not uncommon in Pakistan; however, year 2011 and 2012 witnessed marked increase in the attacks against minorities — especially Muslim minorities. According to a report published by Human Rights Watch, summarising the incidents related to human rights violation in Pakistan stated that 2011 was “disastrous for Pakistan” during which “religious minorities faced unprecedented insecurity and persecution in the country”. The seeds of religious disharmony were sown in the 1970s which initially targeted only Ahmadis, however, the scope of religious persecution widened greatly over the period of decades — led by fundamentalists elements in the society — and now includes people from Shia and Bohra communities other than Christians and Hindus.
Ironic as it may sound but the historical trend clearly signifies that Shias of Pakistan have been targeted more with Ahmadis closely trailing behind, followed by people professing other religions.
Dawn.com presents an exclusive timeline of all the major incidents entailing religious persecution witnessed in Pakistan.
1988: A dispute arising on the grounds of sighting Eid moon triggered violent sectarian attacks in Gilgit-Baltistan. A group of people representing Sunni Lashkar comprising hundreds of people from different northwestern Pakistani cities united against Shias.
The ensuing violence claimed many lives, mostly those of Shia Muslims, villages were ransacked and torched down and the livestock was slaughtered.
June 26, 1991: Unidentified assailants slaughtered 13 members of a Shia family in Islampura. The killed included women and children.
April 1995: Two members of Ahmadiyya community were stoned to death in what then was known as North West Frontier Province of Pakistan in the area of Shab Qadar.
The body of one of the victims was stripped and dragged all across the city whereas the police allegedly stood and watched the massacre.
1997: Twelve members of a Shia family were killed during a Majlis in 1997. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) leader Malik Ishaq was arrested, however, was released later due to lack of evidence.
The same year, Malik Ishaq was alleged to have bombed the Iranian culture centre in Multan claiming eight lives.
Moreover, in July of 1997 four women and children belonging to Shia sect were shot dead in Samanabad.
October 2000: Unknown assailants opened fire at the prayer meeting of an Ahmadi mosque in a village located near Sialkot killing at least five worshippers.
Ten days later another five Ahmadis were gunned down whilst they were praying in Takht-Hazari — a village located 30 miles away from Sargodha.
In October 2000, seven Shia Muslims including three women were killed in Faisal Town of Lahore.
February 26, 2002: At least 11 Shia Muslims were killed by indiscriminate firing by a group of masked gunmen at the Shah-i-Najaf Mosque in Rawalpindi.
March 2002 : Assailants allegedly associated with Sunni Tehrik assassinated Prof Ataur Rehman and a caretaker of an Imam Bargah who tried to intervene whilst the assassin were escaping the crime scene.
May 7, 2002 : Renowned religious scholar Prof Dr Ghulam Murtaza Malik, his driver and a policeman were shot dead by two gunmen who claimed to be associated with Sunni Tehrik.
June 8, 2003: Eleven Hazara Shia police trainees were shot dead in a sectarian attack on Sariab Road located in Quetta. On the same day, twelve Shia Hazara police cadets were gunned downed in Quetta.
July 4, 2003 At least 47 people were killed and 150 injured in an attack on an Imambargah in Quetta.