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The intellectual roots of Sunni sectarianism in Pakistan: a reply to Fuchs

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/11/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Global Discourse
Issue number4
Volume9
Number of pages3
Pages (from-to)717-719
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

In the article ‘Faded Networks: The Overestimated Saudi Legacy of Anti-Shi’i Sectarianism in Pakistan’, Simon Wolfgang Fuchs highlights the distinction between Sunni sectarianism in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, arguing that scholars have overestimated the influence of Salafi Saudi scholars on sectarian ulama in Pakistan. Fuchs underlines the Deobandi roots of Sunni sectarianism in Pakistan to differentiate anti-Shia sentiment in South Asia from the Middle Eastern, Salafi variety. However, Fuchs overlooks the impact of the Saudi- and US-sponsored jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s on Sunni sectarianism in Pakistan. Sunni extremists in Pakistan regularly target Ithna Ashari Shias – including ethnic Hazaras – rather than Ismaili and Bohri Shias, which is evidence for the spillover of the Saudi-Iranian rivalry into Pakistan. The continuing impact of events in Afghanistan on sectarianism in Pakistan further undermines Fuchs’ argument about the domestic roots of Sunni sectarianism in the latter country. Nevertheless, Fuchs’ emphasis on the intellectual heritage of Deobandi Sunnism and its impact on Sunni sectarianism in Pakistan provides a necessary corrective to the view that sectarian violence in the country is due solely to foreign influences.