1988 Gilgit massacre

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1988 Gilgit Baltistan massacre
LocationGilgit Baltistan
Coordinates35°48′09″N 74°59′00″E / 35.8026°N 74.9832°E / 35.8026; 74.9832
Date16-18, 1988
Morning (UTC 05:00)
TargetShia of Gilgit Baltistan
Attack type
Lynching, Burning, Raping
Deaths400-700
Non-fatal injuries
100s
PerpetratorTribesmen from Chilas and NWFP

In 1988 a revolt by the Shias of Gilgit Baltistan (northern region of Pakistan) was ruthlessly suppressed by the Zia-ul Haq regime.[1] The Pakistan Army led an armed group of Sunni tribals, from Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier Province, into Gilgit and its surrounding areas to suppress the revolt.[2][3][4]

Background[edit]

Shias alleged discrimination by the Pakistani government since 1948, claiming that Sunnis were given preference in business, official positions and the administration of justice.[5] On 5 July 1977, General Zia-ul-Haq led a coup d'état,[6] and committed himself to establishing an Islamic state and enforcing sharia law.[7] Zia's state sponsored Islamization increased sectarian divisions in Pakistan between Sunni and Shia and between Deobandis and Barelvis.[8] The Pakistani government leaned in favour of applying Sunni law to all.[9] Attacks on Shias increased under the presidency of Zia-ul-Haq.[5] Pakistan`s first major Shia-Sunni riots erupted in 1983 in Karachi during the Shia holiday of Muharram, leaving at least sixty people dead. Further Muharram disturbances followed over another three years, spreading to Lahore and the Baluchistan region and leaving hundreds more dead. In July 1986, Sunnis and Shias, a number of them equipped with locally made automatic weapons, clashed in the northwestern settlement of Parachinar, where an estimated over 200 died.[10]

Conflict[edit]

The first major anti-Shia riots in Gilgit broke out in May 1988 over the sighting of the moon, which ushers the end of the holy month of Ramadan. When Shias in Gilgit celebrated Eid al-Fitr, a group of extremist Sunnis, still fasting as their religious leaders had not yet declared the sighting of the moon, attacked them. This resulted in violent clashes between Sunnis and Shias. Following a brief calm of about four days, the Pakistani military regime reportedly used a number of militants along with local Sunnis to ‘teach a lesson’ to Shias, which resulted in the hundreds of Shias and Sunnis being killed.[11]

There was a revolt in Gilgit by its Shia population, which called for a separate Shia state. The Pakistan Army then transported Osama bin Laden and his hordes massacred and raped several hundred Shia civilians in Gilgit.[12][13]

The Herald, the monthly journal of the prestigious Dawn group of Karachi, wrote in its April 1990 issue:

In May 1988, low-intensity political rivalry and sectarian tension ignited into full-scale carnage as thousands of armed tribesmen from outside Gilgit district invaded Gilgit along the Karakoram Highway. Nobody stopped them. They destroyed crops and houses, lynched and burnt people to death in the villages around Gilgit town. The number of dead and injured was in the hundreds. But numbers alone tell nothing of the savagery of the invading hordes and the chilling impact it has left on these peaceful valleys.[14]

Casualties[edit]

The exact number of casualties has been disputed. According to sources 150 to 400 people were killed while hundreds of others were injured.[15] Unofficial reports gave a number of 700 Shias killed.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raman, B (7 October 2003). "The Shia Anger". Outlook. Retrieved 31 December 2016. Because they have not forgotten what happened in 1988. Faced with a revolt by the Shias of the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), under occupation by the Pakistan Army, for a separate Shia State called the Karakoram State, the Pakistan Army transported Osama bin Laden's tribal irregulars into Gilgit and let them loose on the Shias. They went around massacring hundreds of Shias – innocent men, women and children.
  2. ^ Daniel Silander; Don Wallace; John Janzekovic (2016). International Organizations and The Rise of ISIL: Global Responses to Human Security Threats. Routledge. p. 37.
  3. ^ Raman, B (26 February 2003). "The Karachi Attack: The Kashmir Link". Rediiff News. Retrieved 31 December 2016. A revolt by the Shias of Gilgit was ruthlessly suppressed by the Zia-ul Haq regime in 1988, killing hundreds of Shias. An armed group of tribals from Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier Province, led by Osama bin Laden, was inducted by the Pakistan Army into Gilgit and adjoining areas to suppress the revolt.
  4. ^ Taimur, Shamil (12 October 2016). "This Muharram, Gilgit gives peace a chance". Herald. Retrieved 31 December 2016. This led to violent clashes between the two sects. In 1988, after a brief calm of nearly four days, the military regime allegedly used certain militants along with local Sunnis to ‘teach a lesson’ to Shias, which led to hundreds of Shias and Sunnis being killed.
  5. ^ a b Jones, Brian H. (2010). Around Rakaposhi. Brian H Jones. ISBN 9780980810721. Many Shias in the region feel that they have been discriminated against since 1948. They claim that the Pakistani government continually gives preferences to Sunnis in business, in official positions, and in the administration of justice...The situation deteriorated sharply during the 1980s under the presidency of the tyrannical Zia-ul Haq when there were many attacks on the Shia population.
  6. ^ Grote, Rainer (2012). Constitutionalism in Islamic Countries: Between Upheaval and Continuity. Oxford University Press. p. 196. ISBN 9780199910168.
  7. ^ Kepel, Gilles (2002). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (2006 ed.). I.B.Tauris. pp. 100–101. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  8. ^ Talbot, Ian (1998). Pakistan, a Modern History. NY: St.Martin's Press. p. 251. The state sponsored process of Islamisation dramatically increased sectarian divisions not only between Sunni and Shia over the issue of the 1979 Zakat Ordinance, but also between Deobandis and Barelvis.
  9. ^ Broder, Jonathan (10 November 1987). "Sectarian Strife Threatens Pakistan`s Fragile Society". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 December 2016. But President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq`s program of Islamizing Pakistan`s political, economic and social life, begun in 1979, has proved to be a divisive wedge between Sunnis and Shiites. `The government says only one code of law-the Sunni code-applies to all, and the Shiites won`t agree to it,` says Ghufar Ahmed, a member of National Assembly from the Sunni fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami Party, an influential opposition group that has spearheaded the campaign to subordinate the state to Islam.
  10. ^ Broder, Jonathan (10 November 1987). "Sectarian Strife Threatens Pakistan`s Fragile Society". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  11. ^ Shamil, Taimur (12 October 2016). "This Muharram, Gilgit gives peace a chance". Herald. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  12. ^ International Organizations and The Rise of ISIL: Global Responses to Human Security Threats. Routledge. 2016. pp. 37–38. ISBN 9781315536088. Several hundred Shiite civilians in Gilgit, Pakistan, were massacred in 1988 by Osama Bin Laden and his Taliban fighters (Raman, 2004).
  13. ^ Murphy, Eamon (2013). The Making of Terrorism in Pakistan: Historical and Social Roots of Extremism. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 9780415565264. Shias in the district of Gilgit were assaulted, killed and raped by an invading Sunni lashkar-armed militia-comprising thousands of jihadis from the North West Frontier Province.
  14. ^ Raman, B (14 September 2009). "The AQ Khan Proliferation Highway - III". Outlook. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Gilgit-Baltistan: Murder most Foul" by Ambreen Agha Archived 2014-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Mahapatra, Debidatta Aurobinda; Shekhawat, Seema (2007). Kashmir Across Loc. Gyan Publishing House. p. 124. ISBN 9788121209687. As per unofficial reports, there was killing of about 700 Shias.