Pakistan: How Shia Muslims differ from Sunnis; treatment of Shias, particularly in Lahore and Multan; government response to violence against Shia Muslims (2010-December 2013)
1. Differences Between Shia and Sunni Muslims
Estimates of the Shia Muslim population in Pakistan range from 5 percent (SAIR ) to 20 percent (ibid.; MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012; RFE/RL 18 Feb. 2013).
1.1 Religious Differences
Sources indicate that the split between the Shia and Sunni sects of Islam traces back to a dispute over who would lead the Muslim community after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (BBC 6 Dec. 2011; Pew 9 Aug. 2012b). According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an independent non-profit research organization (MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012), Sunni Muslims believe that the four caliphs that succeeded the Prophet Muhammad, in order, are Abu Bakr, Omar ibn Khattab, Usman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib, with Ali being the last of the four (ibid.). In contrast, the same source explains that Shia claim that the Prophet Muhammad named Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor and, thus, consider him the first caliph, leading to a different set of successors (ibid.). Similarly, in written correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said that Sunni follow the four companions (Abu Bakr, Umer, Usman and Ali), whereas Shia only follow one companion (Hazrat Ali), whom they believe Mohammad named as his successor (17 Dec. 2013).
Sources indicate that there are some differences in doctrine between Sunni and Shia Muslims (MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012; BBC 6 Dec. 2011). According to an article by BBC, there are differences in ritual, law, theology and religious organization (ibid.). However, the same sources notes that Sunni and Shia Muslims share many beliefs, such as the "'oneness'" of Allah and that Muhammad was the last prophet, as well as many practices, such as prayer, fasting, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca (ibid.).
Sources indicate that the Day of Ashura, the tenth day in the Islamic month of Muharram [Moharram], is the main religious activity for Shia (Plus News Pakistan 18 Nov. 2013; US 28 Jan. 2009, 4; IHS Global Insight 19 Nov. 2013). For Shia, Ashura commemorates the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain at Karbala (Plus News Pakistan 18 Nov. 2013; US 28 Jan. 2009, 4; AHRC 17 Dec. 2013). Sources indicate that Hussain was Ali's son (ibid.; US 28 Jan. 2009, 4). He was reportedly killed by Sunni forces in Karbala [Iraq] in 680 (ibid.), by the armies of the caliph Yazid (AFP 15 Nov. 2013). According to the BBC, both Ali and Hussain were killed in power struggles over who would be the caliph [leader of the Muslims] (BBC 6 Dec. 2011). A report by the US Congressional Research Services (CRS) notes that for Shia, Ashura is a somber occasion and includes a ritual of self-flagellation (US 28 Jan. 2009, 4). The same source explains that Shia religious traditions and practices are reinforced by the Ashura ritual and the moral lessons learned from the martyrdom of Hussein (ibid.).
1.2 Distinguishing Features
Sources indicate that Shia in Pakistan can often be distinguished by their names (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013; AHRC 17 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the editorial team of the South Asian Studies Project of MEMRI, noted that common Shia names include Jaffer, Rizvi, Ali, Hussain, Hasan, and Abbas (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013). The AHRC representative included Sayyed, Raza, Naqvi, Jafery, and Abbas as common Shia names, in conjunction with Hussain and the names of friends of Hussain who were also killed in the battle in Karbala (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013).
Sources indicate that one cannot generally differentiate between Shia and Sunni people in Pakistan by appearance (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013; PhD Candidate 11 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013). The AHRC representative noted that while Sunni and Shia are generally not distinguishable by their dress, many Shia wear black clothes and "display signs of the grave, horse and blood of Hussein" during the month of Muharram (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013). The same source also noted that Shia religious leaders often wear black, while Sunni clerics often wear green or white (ibid.). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a PhD candidate at McGill University, who studies Islamic law and is also a fellow at the Lahore-based Islamic research foundation al-Mawrid (13 Dec. 2013), noted that Shia scholars are distinguishable from Sunni scholars, with different dress, cloaks and turbans (11 Dec. 2013).
Sources indicate that some Sunnis in Pakistan view Shia as a "'heretical'" sect of Islam (SAIR ) or as non-Muslims (MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012; Pew 9 Aug. 2012a). According to a 2012 survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre, only 50 percent of Sunni Pakistanis surveyed accept Shia followers as Muslims (ibid.).
2. Treatment of Shia Muslims
Several sources indicate that there has been an increase in violent attacks against Shia by militant groups (Jinnah Institute 2013, 19-20; SAIR ; HRCP Mar. 2013, 6). Attacks against Shia reportedly occur in all regions of Pakistan (MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012; SAIR ; HRCP Mar. 2013, 102). Several sources indicate that Shia are particularly targeted in Balochistan province (MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012; HRCP Mar. 2013, 60; Human Rights Watch 5 Sept. 2012), particularly in the city of Quetta (Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013; HRCP Mar. 2013, 102). According to the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), approximately 33 percent of targeted killings of Shia in 2012 occurred in Balochistan (23 Feb. 2013). Sources also report high levels of violence against Shia in:
the city of Karachi (HRCP Mar. 2013, 60; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013; Human Rights Watch 5 Sept. 2012);
the regions of Gilgit Balistan (Human Rights Watch 5 Sept. 2012; MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012);
Parachinar (ibid.; Jinnah Institute 2013, 20)
Dera Ismail Khan (ibid.; MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012;).
Several sources indicate that Hazara Shia in Balochistan have been particularly targeted (ibid.; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013; HRCP Mar. 2012, 83-84). According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the Hazara, who are almost all Shia, are reportedly a distinct ethnic group with recognizable physical features, making them more easily targeted (HRCP Mar. 2013, 101). According to the Jinnah Institute, an independent public policy think tank and advocacy group focused on human security issues (Jinnah Institute 2013), most Hazara can no longer attend university or college in Quetta city, or have closed their businesses as a result of security fears and targeted attacks (ibid., 24).
In a report to the UN Human Rights Commission, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), an NGO with special consultative status, reports that between 2008 and April 2013, approximately 942 Shia were killed in 481 incidents in Pakistan, and that the Hazara remained "prime targets" (23 May 2013, 2). Basing their figures on media reports, the HRCP State of Human Rights in 2012 indicates that in Balochistan, between 2008 and 2012, 758 Shia were killed; of these 338 were Hazara Shias (Mar. 2013, 64). Sources indicate that targeted Shia include "ordinary" Shia (Jinnah Institute 2013, 20; Human Rights Watch 5 Sept. 2012), meaning people who are not high profile individuals or involved in sectarian politics (Jinnah Institute 2013, 19, 20).
According to the Jinnah Institute report on extremism in Pakistan Extremism Watch, there were 203 Shia killed in 2011 and 450 killed between 1 January 2012 and 30 November 2012 (ibid., 19). According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) there were 136 Shia killed in 2011 and 396 killed in targeted attacks in 2012 (2013). According to HRCP, in 2012, 531 people were killed in sectarian violence across Pakistan, the majority of whom were Shia (Mar. 2013, 62-63). At least 325 Shia Muslims were killed in targeted attacks in 2012, according to an article by the AHRC (23 Feb. 2013). According to Human Rights Watch, approximately 400 Shia were killed between 1 Jan. and 11 Nov. 2013 (11 Nov. 2013).
Sources report that attacks against Shia occur particularly during Ashura (Jinnah Institute 2012, 23; Human Rights Watch 11 Nov. 2013). According to Human Rights Watch, 30 people were killed and at least 100 were wounded in 5 attacks during Ashura in 2012, reportedly by Sunni extremist groups (ibid.). According to the Jinnah Institute, approximately 40 Shia were killed in the first ten days of Muharram in 2012, when at least 8 mourning processions or gatherings were bombed (2013, 19).
Shia have been attacked in multiple ways, including:
motorbike-riding assailants (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013; Human Rights Watch 5 Sept. 2012)
drive-by shootings (US Apr. 2013, 121; HRCP Mar. 2013, 102)
militants stopping buses and killing Shia (ibid.; MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013; US Apr. 2013, 121) who are identified by their names on their ID cards (ibid.; MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013)
targeting buses of Shia pilgrims en route to Iran (Dawn 31 Dec. 2012; Daily Times 31 Dec. 2012; Jinnah Institute 2012, 13)
bombing Shia religious gatherings (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013; HRCP Mar. 2013, 102)
attacking Shia processions (US Apr. 2013, 120: Jinnah Institute 2012, 12)
targeting Shia mosques and other religious buildings (US Apr. 2013, 120; Jinnah Institute 2012, 12; HRCP Mar. 2013, 102)
suicide bombings (US July 2013, 120; Jinnah Institute 2012, 12; HRCP Mar. 2013, 102)
2.1 Treatment of Shia in Lahore and Multan
Sources indicate that Lahore and Multan, in Punjab province, have large Shia communities (Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013; HRCP 13 Dec. 2013). According to the media source IHS Global Insight, both Lahore and Multan are among the urban areas where Shia and Sunni live in close proximity to each other (19 Nov. 2013).
According to the editorial team of the South Asia Studies Project of MEMRI, the situation for Shia Muslims in Lahore and Multan is "extremely serious" (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013). The same source stated that there have been "numerous killings" of Shia in these cities and that "[l]ike elsewhere in Pakistan, Shia Muslims are being systematically targeted and shot dead by Sunni militants who do not consider them as Muslims" (ibid.). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a representative from the Jinnah Institute stated that, while there is less violence against Shia in these areas by comparison to Quetta and Karachi, both Lahore and Multan are affected by "a new level of extremism in Punjab province" (Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013). He said that there have been violent attacks and targeted killings in both cities (ibid.). He described Lahore as a "new flashpoint" for sectarian violence against Shia and noted an increase in the number of Shia being targeted there (ibid.). The AHRC representative said that the situation in Lahore and Multan is "no different" than other areas of Pakistan in terms of the lack of safety and protection for Shia (17 Dec. 2013).
The representative of the HRCP, while corroborating that there have been targeted killings against Shia in Lahore and Multan, expressed the opinion that the problem is not "severe" for Shia in these cities (HRCP 13 Dec. 2013). Similarly, the PhD candidate described Lahore and Multan as "relatively more educated cities" and said that they do not have the same level of "sectarian violence or hatred" as other "remote" areas of Pakistan (PhD Candidate 11 Dec. 2013). He expressed the opinion that while there may be "sectarian tensions" in Lahore and Multan, that sectarian violence and extremism is not part of the beliefs of mainstream society in these cities (ibid.).
Sources indicate that Shia who are particularly targeted in these cities include community leaders (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013) and people in prominent positions (Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013). Examples of Shia professionals targeted include:
doctors and lawyers (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013)
judges, teachers, journalists (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013)
bankers, clerics, company CEOs, police officers (Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013)
Sources indicate that other Shia are also being targeted and killed in these cities (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013), such as shopkeepers or people attending Shia mosques or processions (ibid.). The MEMRI team noted that only killings of prominent Shia are reported in the media (17 Dec. 2013).
Sources report the following incidents of violence against Shia in Lahore:
The Jinnah Insitute reports that on September 2010, there was a suicide attack on the Yaum-e-Ali procession in Lahore; 30 people were killed and 300 were injured (2012, 12). AHRC also reported on an attack on a September 2010 Shia procession killing at least 35 and injuring 160 people (8 Feb. 2012).
In January 2011, a Shia Chehlum procession in Lahore was targeted (AHRC 8 Feb. 2012; Rediff 26 Jan. 2011; HRCP Mar. 2012, 83). According to the Mumbai-based media source Rediff, 13 people were killed and 70 people were injured (Rediff 26 Jan. 2011).
On 24 May 2012, the nephew of the president of a Shia rights organization was the victim of a targeted killing by terrorists (US July 2013, 13).
On 23 June 2012, a Shia Muslim was shot dead at his doorstep in Lahore (MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012).
On 12 February 2013, a Shia banker was shot and killed by militants (AHRC 2013, 19).
On 18 February 2013, a prominent ophthalmologist, and his son [11 years old (ibid., 18)] were shot in a targeted killing when the doctor dropped off his son at school (US July 2013, 5).
On 1 August 2013, "terrorists" decapitated a Shia in Lahore and videotaped the incident (AHRC 2013, 5).
On 1 October 2013 a Shia was killed by the militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) (ibid., 2).
On 15 December 2013, a Shia cleric was shot dead by militants in Lahore (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013).
Media sources report that there was sectarian violence in Multan following attacks that occurred on 15 November in the city of Rawalpindi that killed at least nine people (IHS Global Insight 19 Nov. 2013; Pakistan Observer 17 Nov. 2013; Pakistan Today 17 Nov. 2013). The army was reportedly sent to Multan to quell sectarian clashes (AFP 16 Nov. 2013; Pakistan Observer 17 Nov. 2013; Pakistan Today 17 Nov. 2013). Some sources report that twelve people were injured in the clashes resulting from protests in Multan, but the sources did not specify whether the victims were Shia or Sunni (Pakistan Observer 17 Nov. 2013; AFP 16 Nov. 2013). According to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, at least 25 people were injured in Multan during the "riots," including 7 people with bullet injuries and 3 policemen (17 Nov. 2013).
According to the AHRC representative, there have been some attacks against Shia in Multan, including an attack on an Imam Bargah, which is a sacred place for Shia (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013). An article by Shiite News, a news portal reporting on Shia news around the world, indicates that the Imam Bargah in Multan was attacked on 16 November 2013 by armed "terrorists" of the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba, who hit the gate of the building with batons and sticks (Shiite News 16 Nov. 2013). The article did not report whether there were any deaths or injuries (ibid.).
Media sources report that Shia from Lahore and Multan were among those killed in violent attacks targeting Shia pilgrims en route to Iran (Dawn 31 Dec. 2012; Daily Times 31 Dec. 2013; Daily the Post 31 Dec. 2012).
2.1.2 Hate Speech, Discrimination and Threats
The AHRC representative said there is "hatred" of Shia and they face discrimination (17 Dec. 2013). According to MEMRI, many Sunni clerics preach hatred, prejudice and violence against Shia (MEMRI 25 Sept. 2012). MEMRI notes that some militant Sunni groups, particularly the Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ), use social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to foster violence against Shia (ibid.).
According to the AHRC representative, Lahore is the "epicentre" of the Pakistani Taliban and the Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013). Similarly, the Jinnah Institute representative said there is a large population of militants in Lahore (Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013).
According to the Jinnah Institute representative, it is an "everyday occurrence" for Shia to receive threats and/or face harassment in these cities. He said:
Based on anecdotal evidence, Shia have been receiving threats in a variety of forms--texts, phone calls, letters. Threats against Shia are common, growing and quite frequent in both Lahore and Multan." (ibid.)
The AHRC representative corroborated that it is "very common" for Shia in Lahore and Multan to receive threats and to be subject to verbal abuse (17 Dec. 2013).
3. Militant Groups
Sources indicate that the Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) is one of the militant groups responsible for violence against Shia in Lahore and Multan (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 2012, 20). The LeJ is a banned group (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 2012, 21; HRCP Mar. 2013, 63) and was an off-shoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba, also a banned Sunni militant organization (Jinnah Institute 2012, 20). LeJ has reportedly proclaimed its goal of "'cleansing'" Pakistan of Shia (US Apr. 2013, 121; RFE/RL 18 Feb. 2013). According to the HRCP annual report, State of Human Rights in 2012, the LeJ has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks against Shia in Pakistan (Mar. 2013, 63). LeJ has its base in Punjab province (RFE/RL 18 Feb. 2013).
Sources report that the LeJ changed its name after it was banned and now operates as the political group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) (Jinnah Institute 2013, 19; AHRC 17 Dec. 2013). The representative of the AHRC notes that the group Lashkare Taiba of Hafiz Saeed is also responsible for some violence against Shia in Lahore and Multan (ibid.).
According to Human Rights Watch, LeJ has had links to the Pakistani military and intelligence services and acts with impunity in areas where state authority is well-established, such as Punjab province (Human Rights Watch 11 Nov. 2013).Other sources also note that the Pakistani intelligence maintains relationships with these banned militant groups (US Apr. 2013, 121; AHRC 21 Sept. 2011), including the LeJ in Punjab (ibid.).
4. State Protection
4.1 Government Efforts
Several sources state that government efforts to address violence against Shia have not been sufficient (Jinnah Institute 2013, 23; US Apr. 2013, 119; AHRC 8 Feb. 2012). In their annual report for 2012, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom describes the response of the Pakistani government to violent attacks against Shia as "grossly inadequate" (US Apr. 2013, 120). Similarly, the Jinnah Institute said there is a "lack of political will" to address violence against Shia (Jinnah Institute 2013, 23). The Jinnah Institute representative stated that there is "no protection against targeted killings" of Shia and that the Pakistani government "generally has not done much, does not take responsibility, and seems unwilling to take action" (ibid. 16 Dec. 2013). Similarly the AHRC reported that "[t]he State's machinery has either refused or failed to protect Shias and other religious minorities in Pakistan" (AHRC 8 Feb. 2012). The AHRC representative explained that "[t]he government does not appear to be doing anything for the protection [of] the Shia religious community except providing some security at the processions and at the religious places, which are mostly insufficient" (ibid. 17 Dec. 2013).
Media sources report cases in which the state has provided police support to strengthen security in Lahore and Multan during times of sectarian tension (Dawn 17 Nov. 2013; Plus News Pakistan 18 Nov. 2013; Rediff 26 Jan. 2011). For example, Plus News Pakistan notes that during the Ashura procession in November 2013, security arrangements in Lahore included the suspension of mobile phone services, blocking off the procession route and only allowing mourners to enter after security personnel checked ID cards (Plus News Pakistan 18 Nov. 2013). In addition, security measures included a special police squad ahead of the procession and monitoring by army helicopters (ibid.).
The HRCP reports that following several attacks against Shia pilgrims travelling through Balochistan in 2011, authorities required pilgrims to obtain permission prior to travelling through the province en route to Iran (HRCP Mar. 2013, 93). However, the same source notes that official escorts of Shia convoys travelling through the province only afforded the pilgrims "partial security" and they continued to be targeted in 2012 (ibid.).
Several sources state that militants targeting Shia Muslims act with "impunity" (US Apr. 2013, 120: Jinnah Institute 2013, 19; Human Rights Watch 5 Sept. 2012). According to the AHRC, the government has provided "safe shelters" for Sunni militant groups and the ruling party has made alliances with members of the ASWJ party (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013). Similarly, the MEMRI team expressed the view that the government of Punjab province, "promises religious harmony but is effectively shielding the culprits" (MEMRI 17 Dec. 2013). The same source expressed the view that the provincial government "received electoral support from the SSPASWJ-LeJ" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. Senior army officials interviewed by the Jinnah Institute said that the army, which is responsible for leading counter-terrorism efforts, maintains a "'hands off policy towards sectarian conflicts'" (Jinnah Institute 2013, 20).
4.2 Police and Judiciary
The MEMRI team noted that the government does not act against powerful sectarian organizations, which also prevents the police and judiciary from acting against them (17 Dec. 2013). According to the Jinnah Institute, "no concrete steps have been taken to investigate the attacks [against Shia]" (2013, 20).
According to MEMRI, the Punjab police are under the influence of "anti-Shia Islamic forces" (Dec. 2013). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
Several sources indicate that no one has been punished for violent attacks against Shia (Human Rights Watch 5 Sept. 2012; AHRC 17 Dec. 2013; Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013). According to Human Rights Watch, since 2008, "only a handful" of suspects have been charged in attacks against Shia, but none were punished (5 Sept. 2012). According to the Jinnah Institute, the LeJ leader, Malik Ishaq, was apprehended but was released from detention in January 2012 "for lack of evidence" (2013, 22). According to the HRCP, no perpetrators were apprehended for any of the main sectarian attacks in 2012 (Mar. 2013, 101).
The AHRC representative explained:
There is not a single case [of Shia killings] in which the police have made any effective investigation. Not a single person has been punished because of the poor prosecution and the judges are afraid of giving sentences to the militants. (17 Dec. 2013)
Similarly, the Jinnah Institute representative said:
In terms of targeted killings of Shia by militants, the police and courts are not able to provide a solution. Nobody has been convicted or tried for extra-judicial killings of Shia. The police and courts lack capacity to take on the terrorists, who are in banned groups. They may register the case, but the courts do not come into play. There are currently anti-terrorism courts, but sectarian killings are seldom taken up by these courts. (16 Dec. 2013)
According to the USCIRF annual report for 2012, the state does not adequately protect religious minorities, in part, due to "endemic corruption, ineffectiveness, and a general lack of accountability" within the police and judiciary (US Apr. 2013, 119). Similarly, the Jinnah Institute states that "[d]efective investigations, poorly documented cases, intimidation of investigators, lawyers and judges have all contributed to the poor conviction rate in cases related to Shia killings" (2013, 23).
According to the AHRC representative, the police cannot provide protection to Shia who receive threats and do not file reports based on threats (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013). On this topic, the Jinnah Institute representative explained:
In terms of threats, reporting the threats to the police could make the victim more vulnerable. Some police have anti-Shia sentiments and it is hard to know whether the police will act as a friend. A lot of militant organizations have power, and the police may report the victim's complaints to the militants. Police are also targeted by militants, so often police do not want to get involved. (Jinnah Institute 16 Dec. 2013)
The AHRC representative noted that Shia police officers face discrimination "on the instructions of militants" (AHRC 17 Dec. 2013).
In terms of the overall policing situation in Lahore and Multan, the Jinnah Institute representative stated:
Policing tends to be better in Lahore than some other Pakistani cities. However, it is a large city and the situation varies depending on the part of the city. Multan is more run down and under-resourced and offers less protection than Lahore. (16 Dec. 2013)
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Agence France Presse. 16 November 2013. Khurram Shahzad. "Pakistan Calls Troops after Violence Kills 10, Injures Dozens." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). 17 December 2013. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.
_____. 2013. "Pakistan Sectarian Violence and Target Killings 2013." [Accessed 3 Dec. 2013]
_____. 23 February 2013. "Pakistan: Shia Genocide- Military and Militant." [Accessed 3 Dec. 2013]
_____. 8 February 2012. "Pakistan: Brutal Sectarian Violence Against Shias Continues Unabated." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
_____. 21 September 2011. "Pakistan: Members of Shia Community Were Under Attack While the Military Forces Look On." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
BBC. 6 December 2011. "Quick Guide: Sunnis and Shias." [Accessed 6 Dec. 2013]
Daily Times. 31 December 2012. "20 Shias Killed in Mastung Bus Blast." (Factiva)
Daily The Post. 31 December 2012. "19 Die as Car Bomb Hits Convoy of Pilgrims." (Factiva)
Dawn. 31 December 2012. "Jaish-ul-Islam Claims Responsibility: 20 Shia Pilgrims Killed in Mastung." (Factiva)
_____. 17 November 2013. Shakeel Ahmad and Gilzar Ahmad Chaudhry. "25 Injured in Multan Riots." (Factiva)
Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP). 13 December 2013. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate.
_____. March 2013. State of Human Rights in 2012. [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
_____. March 2012. State of Human Rights in 2011. [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
Human Rights Watch. 11 November 2013. "Pakistan: Deter Escalating Attacks on Shia Muslims." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
_____. 5 September 2012. "Pakistan: Shia Killings Escalate." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
IHS Global Insight. Asad Ali. 19 November 2013. "Risk of Fighting Between Pakistan's Sectarian Groups Next Month Remains High." (Factiva)
Jinnah Institute. 16 December 2013. Telephone interview with a representative.
_____. 2013. Extremism Watch: Mapping Conflict Trends in Pakistan 2011-2012. [Accessed 16 Dec. 2013]
_____. 2012. Extremism Watch: Mapping Conflict Trends in Pakistan 2010-2011. [Accessed 16 Dec. 2013]
Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). 17 December 2013. Correspondence from the Director of Government Affairs to the Research Directorate.
______. 25 September 2012. Tufail Ahmad. "Calls to Put Pakistan on Genocide Watch Amid Mounting Persecution of Its Religious Minorities." Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 884. [Accessed 16 Dec. 2013]
Pakistan Observer. 17 November 2013. "Army Called in Pindi, Multan, Chishtian." (Factiva)
Pakistan Today. 17 November 2013. "Army Called to Quell Clashes in Multan, Chishtian." (Factiva)
Pew Research. 9 August 2012a. "Chapter 5: Boundaries of Religious Identity." The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity. [10 Dec. 2013]
_____. 9 August 2012b. "Executive Summary." The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity. [10 Dec. 2013]
Plus News Pakistan. 18 November 2013. "Peaceful Ashura in Lahore." (Factiva)
PhD. Candidate, McGill University. 13 December 2013. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.
_____. 11 December 2013. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 18 February 2013. Abubakar Siddique. "Pakistan's Hazara Killings Bring Sunni Extremist Group into Focus." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
Rediff [Mumbai]. 26 January 2011. "15 Killed, 80 Injured in Pak Suicide Attacks." [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
Shiite News. 16 November 2013. "Multan: Yazidi Terrorists Attack on Hussainabad Mosque and Imam Bargh." [Accessed 8 Jan. 2014]
Society for Threatened Peoples (STP). 23 May 2013. "Written Statement Submitted by the Society for Threatened Peoples, a Non-Governmental Organization in Special Consultative Status." (A/HRC/23/NGO/77) [Accessed 9 Dec. 2013]
South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR). . Ambreen Agha. "Sectarianism: Savage Campaign." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2013]
South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP). 2013. "Pakistan Assessment 2013." [Accessed 13 Dec. 2013]
United States (US). July 2013. US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Factsheet Pakistan. Pakistan: A History of Violence. [Accessed 6 Dec. 2013]
_____. April 2013. US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). "Pakistan." Annual Report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. [Accessed 6 Dec. 2013]
_____. 28 January 2009. Congressional Research Service (CRS). Islam: Sunnis and Shiites. [Accessed 6 Dec. 2013]
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives of the following organizations were unsuccessful within the time contraints of this Response: Brookings Institution; Centre for Academic Shia Studies; Human Rights Watch.
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; ecoi.net; Factiva; Hudson Institute for Religious Freedom; International Crisis Group; International Federation for Human Rights; Pakistan - Census, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights; United Nations - Human Rights Council, Integrated Regional Information Networks, Refworld; Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy.
Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.
This article is about the city of Karachi. For other uses, see Karachi (disambiguation).
Clockwise from top: The tomb of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Frere Hall, a view of I. I. Chundrigar Road, the Karachi Port Trust Building, the Mohatta Palace, Port of Karachi
|Nickname(s): City of the Quaid, Paris of Asia, The City of Lights, Bride of the Cities|
Location in PakistanShow map of Sindh
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|Coordinates: 24°51′36″N67°0′36″E / 24.86000°N 67.01000°E / 24.86000; 67.01000Coordinates: 24°51′36″N67°0′36″E / 24.86000°N 67.01000°E / 24.86000; 67.01000|
|City Council||City Complex, Gulshan-e-Iqbal Town|
|• Type||Metropolitan City|
|• Mayor of Karachi||Waseem Akhtar|
|• Deputy Mayor of Karachi||Arshad Vohra|
|• Total||3,780 km2 (1,460 sq mi)|
|Elevation||8 m (26 ft)|
|Population (2017 Census)|
|• Rank||1st in Pakistan|
|Time zone||PKT (UTC+05:00)|
|Postal codes||74XXX – 75XXX|
|Dialing code||+9221-XXXX XXXX|
|GDP/PPP||$113 billion (2014)|
Karachi (Urdu: کراچی; ALA-LC: Karācī, IPA: [kəˈraːtʃi] ( listen); Sindhi: ڪراچي) is the capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh. It is the most populous city in Pakistan, and third most populous city proper in the world. Ranked as a beta world city, the city is Pakistan's premier industrial and financial centre. Karachi is also Pakistan's most cosmopolitan city. Situated on the Arabian Sea, Karachi serves as a transport hub, and is home to two of Pakistan's two largest seaports, the Port of Karachi and Port Bin Qasim, as well as the busiest airport in Pakistan.
Though the Karachi region has been inhabited for millennia, the city was founded as the fortified village of Kolachi in 1729. The settlement drastically increased in importance with the arrival of British East India company in the mid 19th century, who not only embarked on major works to transform the city into a major seaport, but also connected it with their extensive railway network. By the time of the Partition of British India, the city was the largest in Sindh with an estimated population of 400,000. Following the independence of Pakistan, the city's population increased dramatically with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from India. The city experienced rapid economic growth following independence, attracting migrants from throughout Pakistan and South Asia.
Karachi is one of Pakistan's most secular and socially liberal cities. It is also the most linguistically, ethnically, and religiously diverse city in Pakistan. With a population of 14.9 million recorded in the 2017 Census of Pakistan, Karachi is the world's 12th most populous metropolitan area. Karachi is one of the world's fastest growing cities, and has communities representing almost every ethnic group in Pakistan. Karachi is home to over 2 million Bangladeshi immigrants, 1 million Afghan refugees, and up to 400,000 Rohingyas from Myanmar.
Karachi is now Pakistan's premier industrial and financial centre. The city has a formal economy estimated to be worth $113 billion as of 2014[update]. Karachi collects over a third of Pakistan's tax revenue, and generates approximately 20% of Pakistan's GDP. Approximately 30% of Pakistani industrial output is from Karachi, while Karachi's ports handle approximately 95% of Pakistan's foreign trade. Approximately 90% of the multinational corporations operating in Pakistan are headquartered in Karachi. Up to 70% of Karachi's workforce is employed in the informal economy, which is typically not included in GDP calculations.
Known as the "City of Lights" in the 1960s and 1970s for its vibrant nightlife, Karachi was beset by sharp ethnic, sectarian, and political conflict in the 1980s with the arrival of weaponry during the Soviet–Afghan War. The city had become well known for its high rates of violent crime, but recorded crimes sharply decreased following a controversial crackdown operation against criminals, the MQM political party, and Islamist militants initiated in 2013 by the Pakistan Rangers. The city's murder rate in 2015 had decreased by 75% compared to 2013, and kidnappings decreased by 90%, with the improved security environment triggering sharp increases in real-estate prices.
Karachi was reputedly founded in 1729 as the settlement of Kolachi. The new settlement is said to have been named in honour of Mai Kolachi, whose son is said to have slain a man-eating crocodile in the village after his elder brothers had already been killed by it.
The city's inhabitants are referred to by the demonymKarachiite in English, and Karāchīwālā in Urdu.
Main articles: History of Karachi and Timeline of Karachi history
Late Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites discovered by a team from Karachi University on the Mulri Hills constitute one of the most important archaeological discoveries made in Sindh during the last 50 years. The earliest inhabitants of the Karachi region are believed to have been hunter-gatherers, with ancient flint tools discovered at several sites. A sea port called Barbarikon by the Greeks was situated in Karachi.
The Karachi region is believed to have been known to the ancient Greeks. The region may be the site of Krokola, where Alexander the Great once camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia, as well as Morontobara which may possibly be Karachi's Manora neighbourhood.
In 711 CE, Muhammad bin Qasim conquered the Sindh and Indus Valley. The Karachi region is believed to have been known to the Arabs as Debal, from where Muhammad Bin Qasim launched his forces into South Asia in 712 C.E.
Under Mirza Ghazi Beg, the Mughal administrator of Sindh, the development of coastal Sindh and the Indus delta was encouraged. Under his rule, fortifications in the region acted as a bulwark against Portuguese incursions into Sindh. The Ottomanadmiral, Seydi Ali Reis, mentioned Debal and Manora Island in his book Mir'ât ül Memâlik in 1554.
Karachi was founded in 1729 as the settlement of Kolachi under the rule of the ethnically Baloch Talpur Mirs of Sindh. The founders of the settlement are said to arrived from the nearby town of Karak Bandar after the harbour there silted in 1728 after heavy rains. The settlement was fortified, and defended with cannons imported by Sindhi sailors from Muscat, Oman. The name Karachee was used for the first time in a Dutch document from 1742, in which a merchant ship de Ridderkerk is shipwrecked near the original settlement. The city continued to be ruled by the Talpur Mirs until it was occupied by forces under the command of John Keane in February 1839.
The British East India Company captured Karachi on 3 February 1839 after the HMS Wellesley opened fire and quickly destroyed the local mud fort at Manora. The town was annexed to British India in 1843 after Sindh was captured by Major General Charles James Napier in the Battle of Miani, with the city declared capital of the new British province.
The city was recognized for its strategic importance, prompting the British to establish the Port of Karachi in 1854. Karachi rapidly became a transportation hub for British India owing to newly built port and rail infrastructure, as well as the increase in agricultural exports from the opening of productive tracts of newly irrigated land in Punjab and interior Sindh. The British also developed the Karachi Cantonment as a military garrison in order to aid the British war effort in the First Anglo-Afghan War.
During the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the 21st Native Infantry, then stationed in Karachi, mutinied and declared allegiance to rebel forces in September 1857, though the British were able to quickly defeat the rebels and reassert control over the city. Following the Rebellion, British colonial administrators continued to develop the city. In 1864, the first telegraphic message was sent from South Asia to England from Karachi. Public building works were undertaken, including the construction of Frere Hall in 1865 and the later Empress Market. In 1878, the British Raj connected Karachi with the network of British India's vast railway system.
By 1899, Karachi had become the largest wheat-exporting port in the East. British development projects in Karachi resulted in an influx of economic migrants from several ethnicities and religions, including Anglo-British, Parsis, Marathis, and Goan Christians, among others. Karachi's newly arrived Jewish population established the city's first synagogue in 1893.Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, was born in Karachi's Wazir Mansion in 1876 to migrants from Gujarat. By the end of the 19th century, Karachi's population was estimated to be 105,000.
Under British rule, the city's municipal government was established. Known as the Father of Modern Karachi, mayor Seth Harchandrai Vishandas led the municipal government to improve sanitary conditions in the Old City, as well as major infrastructure works in the New Town after his election in 1911.
At the dawn of Pakistan's independence in 1947, Karachi was Sindh's largest city with a population of over 400,000. Despite communal violence across India and Pakistan, Karachi remained relatively peaceful compared to cities further north in Punjab. The city became the focus for the resettlement of MuslimMuhajirs migrating from India, leading to a dramatic expansion of the city's population. This migration lasted until the 1960s. This immigration ultimately transformed the city's demographics and economy.
Karachi was selected as the first capital of Pakistan and served as such until the capital was shifted to Rawalpindi in 1958. While foreign embassies shifted away from Karachi, the city is host to numerous consulates and honorary consulates. Between 1958 and 1970, Karachi's role as capital of Sindh was ceased due to the One Unit programme enacted by President Iskander Mirza.
Karachi of the 1960s was regarded as an economic role model around the world, with Seoul, South Korea borrowing from the city's second "Five-Year Plan." The 1970s saw major labour struggles in Karachi's industrial estates. The 1980s and 1990s saw an influx of thousands of Afghan refugees from the Soviet war in Afghanistan into Karachi; who were in turn followed in smaller numbers by refugees escaping from post-revolution Iran.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Karachi was rocked by political and conflict, while crime rates drastically increased with the arrival of weaponry from the War in Afghanistan. Conflict between the MQM party, and ethnic Sindhis, Pashtuns, and Punjabis was sharp. The party and its vast network of supporters were targeted by Pakistani security forces as part of the controversial Operation Clean-up in 1992 – an effort to restore peace in the city that lasted until 1994. Anti-Hindu riots also broke out in Karachi in 1992 in retaliation for the demolition of the Babri Mosque in India by a group of Hindu nationalists earlier that year. Karachi had become widely known for its high rates of violent crime, but recorded crimes sharply decreased following a controversial crackdown operation against criminals, the MQM party, and Islamist militants initiated in 2013 by the Pakistan Rangers.
Main articles: Geography of Karachi and Environment of Karachi
Karachi is located on the coastline of Sindh province in southern Pakistan, along a natural harbour on the Arabian Sea. Karachi is built on a coastal plains with scattered rocky outcroppings, hills and coastal marshlands. Coastal mangrove forests grow in the brackish waters around the Karachi Harbour, and farther southeast towards the expansive Indus River Delta. West of Karachi city is the Cape Monze, locally known as Ras Muari, which is an area characterised by sea cliffs, rocky sandstone promontories and undeveloped beaches.
Within the city of Karachi are two small ranges: the Khasa Hills and Mulri Hills, which lie in the northwest and act as a barrier between North Nazimabad Town and Orangi Town. Karachi's hills are barren and are part of the larger Kirthar Range, and have a maximum elevation of 528 metres (1,732 feet).
Between the hills are wide coastal plains interspersed with dry river beds and water channels. Karachi has developed around the Malir River and Lyari Rivers, with the Lyari shore being the site of the settlement for Kolachi. To the west of Karachi lies the Indus River flood plain.
Main article: Climate of Karachi
Karachi has an arid climate (Köppen: BWh) dominated by a long "Summer Season" while moderated by oceanic influence from the Arabian Sea. The city has low annual average precipitation levels (approx. 250 mm (9.8 in) per annum), the bulk of which occurs during the July–August monsoon season. While the summers are hot and humid, cool sea breezes typically provide relief during hot summer months, though Karachi is prone to deadly heat waves, though a text-message based early warning system is now in place that helped prevent any fatalities during an unusually strong heatwave in October 2017. The winter climate is dry and lasts between December and February. It is dry and pleasant relative to the warm hot season, which starts in March and lasts until monsoons arrive in June. Proximity to the sea maintains humidity levels at near-constant levels year-round.
The city's highest monthly rainfall, 429.3 mm (16.90 in), occurred in July 1967. The city's highest rainfall in 24 hours occurred on 7 August 1953, when about 278.1 millimetres (10.95 in) of rain lashed the city, resulting in major flooding. Karachi's highest recorded temperature is 48 °C (118 °F) which was recorded on 9 May 1938, and the lowest is 0 °C (32 °F) recorded on 21 January 1934.
|Climate data for Karachi|
|Record high °C (°F)||32.8|
|Average high °C (°F)||25.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||18.1|
|Average low °C (°F)||10.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||0.0|
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||6.0|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||270.7||249.4||271.6||277.4||299.1||231.8||155.0||147.7||218.8||283.5||273.3||272.0||2,950.3|
|Source #1: NOAA|
|Source #2: PMD (extremes)|
The city first developed around the Karachi Harbour, and owes much of its growth to its role as a seaport at the end of the 18th century, contrasted with Pakistan's millennia-old cities such as Lahore, Multan, and Peshawar. Karachi's Mithadar neighbourhood represents the extent of Kolachi prior to British rule.
British Karachi was divided between the "New Town" and the "Old Town," with British investments focused primarily in the New Town. The Old Town was a largely unplanned neighbourhood which housed most of the city's indigenous residents, and had no access to sewerage systems, electricity, and water. The New Town was subdivided into residential, commercial, and military areas. Given the strategic value of the city, the British developed the Karachi Cantonment as a military garrison in the New Town in order to aid the British war effort in the First Anglo-Afghan War.
The city's development was largely confined to the area north of the Chinna Creek prior to independence, although the seaside area of Clifton was also developed as a posh locale under the British, and its large bungalows and estates remain some of the city's most desirable properties. The aforementioned historic areas form the oldest portions of Karachi, and contain its most important monuments and government buildings, with the I. I. Chundrigar Road being home to most of Pakistan's banks, including the Habib Bank Plaza which was Pakistan's tallest building from 1963 until the early 2000s.
Situated on a coastal plain northwest of Karachi's historic core lies the sprawling district of Orangi Town. North of the historic core is the largely middle-class district of Nazimabad, and upper-middle class North Nazimabad, which were developed in the 1950s. To the east of the historic core is the area known as Defence – an expansive upscale suburb developed and administered by the Pakistan Army. Karachi's coastal plains along the Arabian Sea south of Clifton were also developed much later as part of the greater Defence Housing Authority project.
Karachi's city limits also include several islands, including Baba and Bhit Islands, Oyster Rocks, and Manora, a former island which is now connected to the mainland by a thin 12 kilometre long shoal known as Sandspit. The city has been described as one divided into sections for those able to afford to live in planned localities with access to urban amenities, and those who live in unplanned communities with inadequate access to such services. Up to 60% of Karachi's residents live in such unplanned communities.
Main article: Economy of Karachi
Karachi is Pakistan's financial and commercial capital. Since Pakistan's independence, Karachi has been the centre of the nation's economy, and remain's Pakistan's largest urban economy despite the economic stagnation caused by sociopolitical unrest during the late 1980s and 1990s. The city forms the centre of an economic corridor stretching from Karachi to nearby Hyderabad, and Thatta.
With an estimated GDP of $113 billion as of 2014[update], Karachi contributes the bulk of Sindh's gross domestic product. The city's competitiveness has declined relative to other Pakistani cities on account of poor infrastructure, corruption, and political instability.
Following a controversial crackdown operation against criminals initiated in 2013 by the Pakistan Rangers, crime rates have dramatically fallen in the city, triggering sharp increases in real-estate prices. In addition to increased land values, upmarket restaurants and cafés are described by Reuters as "overflowing."
Karachi accounts for approximately 20% of the total GDP of Pakistan. The city has a large informal economy which is not typically reflected in GDP estimates. The informal economy may constitute up to 36% of Pakistan's total economy, versus 22% of India's economy, and 13% of the Chinese economy. The informal sector employs up to 70% of the city's workforce. An estimated 63% of the city's workforce is employed in trade and manufacturing.
Finance and Banking
Most of Pakistan's public and private banks are headquartered on Karachi's I. I. Chundrigar Road, which is known as "Pakistan's Wall Street", with a large percentage of the cashflow in the Pakistani economy taking place on I. I. Chundrigar Road. Most major foreign multinational corporations operating in Pakistan have their headquarters in Karachi. Karachi is also home to the Pakistan Stock Exchange, which was rated as Asia's best performing stock market in 2015 on the heels of Pakistan's upgrade to emerging-market status by MSCI.
Media and Technology
Main articles: Media in Karachi, Cinema in Karachi, List of television stations in Karachi, List of magazines in Karachi, and List of newspapers in Karachi
Karachi has been the pioneer in cable networking in Pakistan with the most sophisticated of the cable networks of any city of Pakistan, and has seen an expansion of information and communications technology and electronic media. The city has become a software outsourcing hub for Pakistan. Several independent television and radio stations are based in Karachi, including Business Plus, AAJ News, Geo TV, KTN,Sindh TV,CNBC Pakistan, TV ONE, Express TV,ARY Digital, Indus Television Network, Samaa TV, Abb Tak, BoL TV, and Dawn News, as well as several local stations.
Industry contributes a large portion of Karachi's economy, with the city home to several of Pakistan's largest companies dealing in textiles, cement, steel, heavy machinery, chemicals, and food products. The city is home to approximately 30 percent of Pakistan's manufacturing sector, and produces approximately 42 percent of Pakistan's value added in large scale manufacturing. At least 4500 industrial units form Karachi's formal industrial economy. Karachi's informal manufacturing sector employs far more people than the formal sector, though proxy data suggest that the capital employed and value added from such informal enterprises is far smaller than that offormal sector enterprises.
Karachi Export Processing Zone, SITE, Korangi, Northern Bypass Industrial Zone, Bin Qasim and North Karachi serve as large industrial estates in Karachi. The Karachi Expo Centre also complements Karachi's industrial economy by hosting regional and international exhibitions.
As home to Pakistan's largest ports and a large portion of its manufacturing base, Karachi contributes a large share of Pakistan's collected tax revenue. As most of Pakistan's large multinational corporations are based in Karachi, income taxes are paid in the city even though income may be generated from other parts of the country. As home to the country's two largest ports, Pakistani customs officials collect the bulk of federal duty and tariffs at Karachi's ports, even if those imports are destined for one of Pakistan's other provinces. Approximately 25% of Pakistan's national revenue is generated in Karachi.
According to the Federal Board of Revenue's 2006–2007 year book, tax and customs units in Karachi were responsible for 46.75% of direct taxes, 33.65% of federal excise tax, and 23.38% of domestic sales tax. Karachi accounts for 75.14% of customs duty and 79% of sales tax on imports, and collects 53.38% of the total collections of the Federal Board of Revenue, of which 53.33% are customs duty and sales tax on imports.
Main articles: Demographics of Karachi, Ethnic groups in Karachi, and Religion in Karachi