Pakistan has a bloody history of sectarianism because of one brief but decisive event in its history. The irony is that the event never happened within her borders. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 kickstarted a chain of events that has haunted Pakistan ever since.
The Russo-Afghan conflict resulted in two important developments, none of which was any good for Pakistan. The first was the declaration of Jihad by the local clerics of Afghanistan. The second was the massive inflow of monies and material from Saudi Arabia and GCC region.
The inflow of foreign aid and weapons meant that the Mujahedeen were well supplied and thus were an effective fighting force. Pakistan supplied the man power through its chain of declared and undeclared madrasas. There is no available figure of Pakistani youth that became cannon fodder in this foreign conflict.
The local clerics became rich and powerful under the state patronage bestowed by both the political and defense establishments. They were offered a virtual carte blanche to procure and distribute men and material to their preferred faction of mujahedeen. The result was formation of various factions amongst the dominant Sunni clerical body.
The mullah who was an ignored and shunned part of the society suddenly found himself to be the most important member of the local community. Military officers and politicos alike started to revere the Holy Warriors who were fighting the infidels in Afghanistan. They were granted estates and choice locations within cities for their madrasas.
Once the conflict degenerated into a civil war and the local Afghans started killing their Muslimbrethren from Pakistan, all hell broke loose. Pakistan became saturated with highly trained religious fanatics who had no one to kill.
Naturally, once they had “defeated” the foreign infidels, it was time to cleanse the Land of the Pure. With the help of the money siphoned off in the Afghan Conflict, various clerics started financing hit squads of local mujahedeen. The target was everyone who did not adhere to their very narrow interpretation of Islam. The targets were numerous; weapons aplenty and so these religious nutcases unleashed the wave of terror onto the citizens of Pakistan.
Since then, the curse of sectarianism has engulfed the country and there are no signs that the horrors would abate anytime soon. The clerics operate with full impunity and the sectarian terrorist organizations are fronted by well-known names with large followings.
To curb sectarianism, a ruthless operation should be launched as soon as possible. Religion has long been used as a smokescreen for all kinds of criminal activities. All minorities are equal citizen of Pakistan. This should be the cardinal rule of the society instead of some nut job dictating who should enter heaven and who should burn in hell.