Sectarian Riots in Kohat (NWFP)
Daily Times, March 30, 2008
The news from the Kohat district of the NWFP is not good at all. At least 22 people have died in the ongoing Sunni-Shia riots, although unofficial sources are putting the figure at over 50. The story of misfortune that begins in Kurram Agency in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan extends to Kohat and envelopes the city of Hangu on the way. Kurram Agency is still on fire after an ambulance was attacked killing all its inmates including women and children. In Hangu, on the occasion of Eid Miladun Nabi and the cultural festival of Nauruz, a number of people were killed as in the past when one side resented the celebration of Nauruz.
Kohat is a mixed Sunni-Shia population with traditional dominance of aggressive Sunni clergy. The city boasts an Al Qaeda monument in its centre celebrating the martyrdom of a bus-load of foreign jihadis who had clashed with Pakistani troops in 2001. They had entered Pakistan through Kurram Agency after leaving Tora Bora in Afghanistan, heroes to the Sunnis and non-heroes to the Shias. The curse of sectarianism goes north to Gilgit and south to Karachi, and the absence of the writ of the state makes the job of controlling it extremely difficult.