A deadly divide

The Sunni-Shia divide has been a source of sectarian violence in Pakistan for decades. While the majority of Pakistanis are Sunni, there is a substantial Shia minority, which has borne the brunt of the violence, especially as the Sunni Taliban have grown in strength. Most recently, the terrible New Year’s resolution of Baloch ethnic separatists and Islamist fundamentalists – to spill more blood on the streets of Quetta, the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province – pushed the Hazara community too far, and after many days of protest and refusing to bury their dead, they forced Islamabad to finally act and sack the chief minister of the provincial government. Sunni extremists belonging to the Islamic fundamentalist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have claimed responsibility for a number of attacks and have been methodically executing members of the Hazara community, a Persian-speaking Shia minority whose ancestors came from Afghanistan.