PR Editorials

Suicide Attack on a Sufi Shrine in Balochistan

Photo: Dargah Fatehpur Sharif Facebook

On 5 October 2017, a suicide attack on a Sufi Shrine (of Pir Rakhel Shah in Fatehpur in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan) killed more than 20 people. 

The district borders Sindh and is dominated by the Magsi tribe of the Baloch. The district is predominantly rural; according to the 2017 census, of the total 72,300 population, 68, 400 lives in rural areas. Close to 70 percent speak Balochi, and the rest speak Sindhi and Seraiki. The district is neither a predominant part of the larger Baloch insurgency, nor a part of Pakistan Taliban’s focal area. Then why was there a suicide attack on a Sufi shrine in an insignificant district?

Two trends could be identified. First, there is a deliberate attempt in the recent years to expand sectarian militancy. Shia Hazaras have been under attack in Balochistan in the recent years. Though Balochistan have witnessed violence in the past, it was predominantly led by the secular and socialist Baloch groups. One could see a new actor – a radical one, backed by a particular religious ideology, targeting a section of the Baloch community. The Baloch were not known for their radical views with respect to the religion within Pakistan. 

Second, there is a deliberate attack on Sufi shrines all over in Pakistan. During early 2017, there was a major suicide attack in another Sufi shrine (Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan) in Sindh. Before, there were numerous other suicide attacks on Sufi Shrines in Sindh and Punjab. 

Clearly, the attack in Jhal Magsi is a part of a larger design. The statements made by the officials, linking to external sources show yet another trends – blaming the others for the violence inside Pakistan, and not looking inwards.