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Minorities threatened by armed militants in Pakistan: report

With violence, militancy and lingering law and order issues already challenging the state writ, the relentless attacks on minorities in Pakistan continuing to draw global concerns and outrage. 

A recent report released by Minority Rights Group highlight annual rankings of 2014 of countries where minorities are under-threat. The list put Pakistan on 7th spot.

The report identified groups such as “Shi’a (incl. Hazara), Ahmadiyya, Hindus and other religious minorities; Baluchis, Mohhajirs, Pashtun, Sindhis” in Pakistan as threatened by violent forces.

Somalia was ranked as top country where minorities’ lives are under threat, followed by Sudan, Syria, Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, then comes Pakistan.

The report says, “Islamist armed groups in the Pakistan’s north-west draws most international media attention, the threat of ethnic or sectarian killing reaches across the country. This includes risks from interethnic political violence in Sindh, sectarian clashes between Deobandi and Barelvi militant groups, violent repression of Baluchi activists in Baluchistan, continued persecution of Christians and Ahmadiyya, and an exterminatory campaign against Hazara and other Shi’a across the country waged by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba and the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed the lives of hundreds of victims last year.”

The Middle East and Africa dominate the list of major risers in the index this year. In January 2014 the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner on Human Rights announced that the difficulty of verifying information had led it to abandon updating death tolls for the conflict in Syria, last estimated at over 100,000.

‘A number of states which rose prominently in the index over the last two years – including South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Syria – have subsequently faced episodes of extreme ethnic or sectarian violence,’ says Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director. ‘The 2014 release of Peoples under Threat analysis shows that the risk in those states remains critical – but also that threat levels have risen in other states.’

The fragmentation of the war, both in terms of the proliferation of armed groups and the complex pattern of shifting control on the ground, creates further problems for determining accountability. It also accompanies a growing sectarianization of the conflict. The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the military wing of the national coalition opposed to the Assad government, steadily lost ground to a number of Islamist militias with a sectarian agenda, including the Nusra Front, the Islamic Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Kurds in the north, long persecuted under Assad, faced repeated attacks in the second half of the year by Islamist groups as well as the FSA, pushing some 50,000 refugees to flee to Iraqi Kurdistan. Yemen has steadily risen in Peoples under Threat eight years in succession and now finds itself in the top ten states in the index.

Peoples under Threat is Minority Rights Group’s annual authoritative rankings table which highlights those countries around the world where the risk of mass killing is greatest.

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