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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakistanis Worrisome About Spread of Sectarian Violence

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Plagued by sectarian violence imported from the Gulf during the 1980s, Pakistan is on guard for any spillover from the conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims gripping Iraq.

Bombs can go off anytime for many reasons in Pakistan, but the coming days mark an anxious period for the country's Shiite minority as they mourn the death of one their heroes in the Islamic festival of Moharram. So far, there has been no reaction to events in Iraq, but Pakistani leaders view what's happening there with trepidation, as 15 percent of the Muslim country is Shiite.

As if he didn't have enough to worry about with al-Qaida, the Taliban, jihadi groups fighting the Indian army in Kashmir, and Baluch separatist rebels, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf shudders at the specter of sectarian strife.

"The Islamic world is heading toward a crisis," Musharraf told university students earlier this month, at a time when the world was aghast over Shiite guards taunting Iraq's Sunni former ruler, Saddam Hussein, on the gallows.

"If we don't get our act together, there will be a sectarian catastrophe in the Islamic world," Musharraf said.

Sunni sectarian extremists have already forged links with al-Qaida following Musharraf's alliance with the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks. Osama bin Laden's henchmen directed Pakistani Sunni militants to assassinate Musharraf in 2003.