For the last three decades or so, Pakistan has been a severe victim of sectarian violence. Although the roots of sectarian violence in the Pakistani society could be traced to various political developments in the country and the region, such as, Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization process, Iranian Revolution and the anti-Soviet Afghan war, during the late 1970s, the dangerous phase of sectarian menace began after the 9/11 incident when the domestic sectarian militant organizations established their links with international terrorist groups, e.g., Al-Qaeda and then the self-styled Islamic State (IS), and started playing the role of a facilitator as well as becoming the part of global Jihadism. Against this background, the paper analyzes the origins of sectarianism in Pakistan and threats which it poses to the integrity of the country. In the concluding analysis, the paper argues that the violent extremist ideology that creates ideologically-motivated committed terrorists may be countered if Pakistan reorients its strategic policies vis-à-vis its eastern and western neighbors – India and Afghanistan – by discouraging the use of proxies for pursuing its strategic interests in the region.
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Copyright (c) 2017 Muhammad Azeem, Dr. Naeem Ahmed