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Pakistan: Sectarian Violence

All the sources of information contained in this document are
identified and are publicly available.


July 1999

This paper was prepared by the Research Directorate of the Immigration and Refugee Board on the basis of publicly available information, analysis and comment. All sources are cited. This paper is not, and does not purport to be, either exhaustive with regard to conditions in the country surveyed or conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. For further information on current developments, please contact the Research Directorate.

Research completed 3 June 1999

Table of Contents





3.1 Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan (TJP)
3.2 Sipah-e-Mohammedi Pakistan (SMP)

4.1 Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI)
4.2 Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)
4.3 Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and the Harkat-ul Ansar (HUA)

5.1 Sunni Tehrik
5.2 Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM)
5.3 Tehrik-e-Tulaba
5.4 Jihadi Groups




MAP: Pakistan

See original

Source: Pakistan: A Country Study. 1984. p. xviii


Ahl-e Hadith (People of the Traditions). Wahabi-influenced conservative Indo-Muslim reform movement dating to 19th century.
ATA Anti-Terrorism Act
ATC Anti-Terrorism Court
Barelvi Major Sunni branch. Conservative 19th century Indo-Muslim reform movement originating in Bareilly, India.
Deobandi Major Sunni branch. Conservative 19th century Indo-Muslim reform movement originating in Deoband, India. Ahl-e Hadith-Wahabi in orientation.
FATA Federally Administered Tribal Area.
Hizb-e Wahdat Militant Shia organization formerly based in Hazara region of Afghanistan.
Hizb-ul Mujahideen (Party of the Holy Warriors). Armed wing of Kashmiri Jamaat-e-Islami. Jihadi organization with strong ties to the JI and its Afghan sister organization, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e Islami.
HRCP Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (non-governmental).
HUA Harkat-ul Ansar. Pakistan-based jihadi organization. Deobandi. Strong links to JUI, SSP and Taliban.
HUM Harkat-ul Mujahideen. Successor organization to Harkat-ul Ansar.
ISI Inter-Services Intelligence (military intelligence agency).
ISO Imamia Students Organization (Shia)
Islamic Ahl-e Hadith Political party formed in late 1970s in reaction to Shia activism. Follows the conservative Ahl-e Hadith stream.
JI Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Society). Mainstream right-wing Sunni party.
JUI Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (Conference of Ulema of Islam). Mainstream right-wing Islamic party. Deobandi. Strong links to Taliban. Main faction, JUI(F), is led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman.
JUP Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan (Association of Ulema of Pakistan). Progressive fundamentalist religious party. Barelvi.
Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure). Armed wing of Markaz-e-Dawa-wal Irshad. Jihadi organization operating in Kashmir.
LJ Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Army of Jhangvi). Armed wing of SSP.
Markaz Markaz-e-Dawa-wal Irshad (Centre for Islamic Invitation and Guidance). Ahl-e Hadith-Wahabi.
MQM Mohajir Qaumi movement- a Karachi-based ethno-political party
MTC Military Trial Courts
MYC Milli Yakjehti Council (National Solidarity Council). Established early 1995 to work toward sectarian harmony.
NWFP North West Frontier Province
OGD Geopolitical Drug Watch, a Paris-based organization
PML Pakistan Muslim League
PPP Pakistan People's Party
Shurae Wahdat-e Islami (Council of Islamic Unity). New Shia umbrella organization usurping role traditionally claimed by TJP.
SMP Sipah-e Mohammedi Pakistan (Guardians of the Prophet). Armed TJP splinter group. Shia.
SSP Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (Guardians of the Friends of the Prophet). Militant suborganization of JUI. Sunni Deobandi.
Sunni Tehrik (Sunni Force). JUP splinter group. Barelvi.
Taliban Deobandi Sunni movement currently ruling Afghanistan. Strong links to JUI and SSP.
Tehrik-e-Tulaba (Movement of Students). Islamic group operating in Orakzai Tribal Agency (FATA).
TJP Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan (Movement for Shia Law). Mainstream Shia political party. Formerly known as the Tehrik-e Nefaz-e Fiqh-e Jafria (TNFJ).
TNFJ Tehrik-e Nefaz-e Fiqh-e Jafria (Movement for the Implementation of Shia Law). Shia pressure group formed in response to General Zia ul-Haq's Islamization policies. Forerunner of TJP.
TNSM Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Movement for the Defence of Mohammad's Law). Militant tribally based party operating primarily in Swat and adjoining districts of NWFP. Wahabi.
Wahabi Strictly, a follower of influential 18th century Arab thinker Mohammad ibn Abdul Wahab. In Pakistan, often used to describe a Deobandi or the follower of any rigorous, purist Sunni reform movement.


Sunni-Shia sectarian violence continued unabated in Pakistan in 1998 and early 1999 (Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 1999). The massacre of 25 Shia mourners at the Mominpura graveyard in Lahore on 11 January 1998 set the stage for a series of reprisal killings that left 75 to 78 people dead and 80 wounded in Punjab province alone by year end (HRCP 1999; Dawn 26 Dec. 1998; Country Reports 1998 1999, section 5), and an estimated 150 dead in all of Pakistan (ibid.; HRCP 1999). Although lower than for 1997, the final death toll was still the third highest for any year since 1987 (Dawn 26 Dec. 1998; HRCP 1998, 90, 136). Also significant, the cycle of tit-for-tat killings, once confined to the southern districts of Punjab province (FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24), continued to spread to the major cities in Punjab (JIR Jan. 1999, 33; Dawn 26 Dec. 1998), as well as to urban Sindh and Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) (Country Reports 1998 1999, section 1a; Jilani 1998, 126-27), and broadened to include "massacres of innocent worshippers of both beliefs" (JIR Jan. 1999, 35). Analyst Anthony Davis, writing in Jane's Intelligence Review, argues that Pakistan's crisis in internal security, of which sectarian violence is one component, is now the country's "most immediate threat" (ibid., 33).

This paper will examine the key sectarian militant groups operating in Pakistan and will provide information on their structure, activities, history, ideology, funding, leadership and membership. It will also examine the relationships between the various militant groups and between the militant groups and their sponsors or parent organizations. It will explore the role of the state, both in creating conditions that gave rise to militant sectarian organizations, and some of the measures taken to deal with sectarian violence1. Although the paper focuses on Punjab province, it will also consider developments in other parts of the country, as well as Afghanistan and Kashmir, to account for the transnational component of the problem. This paper will not examine specific incidents or attacks unless they illustrate some aspect of the larger picture. Nor will it examine communal violence, the blasphemy laws or the treatment of religious minorities, or, despite some areas of overlap, clan or tribal violence or ethno-political violence in Karachi.


There are numerous sectarian divisions in Pakistan (Jilani 1998, 126-27; The Herald Feb 1999b, 59; The Economist 28 Jan.-3 Feb. 1995, 37). One source puts the total number of Muslim sects and subsects at 72 (Time 28 Sept. 1998). The Sunni population subdivides into four major streamsDeobandis, Barelvis, Ahl-e Hadith and Wahabisand within these there are reportedly dozens of subgroups2 (The Economist 28 Jan.-3 Feb. 1995, 37; The Herald Feb 1999b, 59; Jilani 1998, 126-27). Despite these divisions, the majority of Sunnis in Pakistan follow the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence (Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 184; Contemporary Religions 1992, 452). The Sunni population is estimated to be 74 per cent of Pakistan's population (ibid.). The three Shia streams in Pakistan are the Ismailis, the Ithna Ashariyya and the Bohras3 (Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 184). Estimates of the size of the Shia population vary widely, from a low of 5 per cent to a high of 25 per cent (ibid.; Country Reports 1998 1999, section 2c); most sources put it at 15-20 per cent (International Affairs 1997, 329; The Economist 28 Jan.-3 Feb. 1995, 37; Current History Dec. 1997, 423; Contemporary Religions 1992, 452). Although small in numbers, Shias are an influential minority (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 689, 707).

One source states that since the early 1980s sectarian conflict in Pakistan has been largely explicable in terms of the same configuration of political and economic problems that result in violent clashes over ethnic, linguistic and other issues (ibid., 714), but others point to specific government policies that gave rise to militant sectarian groups and/or contributed to raising the level of sectarian tensions in the country (HRCP 1997, 87; JIR Jan. 1999, 33-35; Jilani 1998, 126; Current History Dec. 1997, 423). Foremost among these was the Zia government's (1977-1988) Islamization program, which sources claim attempted to legitimize its own military rule by patronizing select Sunni religious groups (ibid.; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 693-5; JIR Jan. 1999, 34). These policies served to radicalize the Shia population and led to the formation of militant Shia organizations (Current History Dec. 1997, 423; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 697; The Herald June 1994a, 35-36), which in turn led to the creation of militant Sunni groups (Reuters 4 May 1997; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 704). Other important contributing factors were the Iranian revolution in 1979 (Reuters 4 May 1997; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 704), the war between Shia Iran and Sunni Iraq from 1980 to 1988 (JIR Jan. 1999, 35), and the fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 19894, which flooded Pakistan with weapons, spawned dozens of militant Islamic groups, and led to a militarization of religious groups and parties and a spreading culture of jihad (ibid., 33-34; Current History Apr. 1996, 160-61).

A second development that served to raise the level of sectarian tensions was the rapid spread of the madrassa movement during the 1980s and 1990s (FEER 9 Mar. 1995b, 25; The Herald Dec. 1997, 64; ibid., June 1994b, 33; JIR Jan. 1999, 34). These Islamic seminaries, often run inside mosques or in adjoining rooms, provide religious instruction to boys age 6 to 16 who generally come from economically deprived backgrounds (ibid.; HRCP 1997, 173; The Herald Dec. 1997, 64; HRCP 1998, 222). Sponsored by politico-religious parties and often funded by donors from the Middle East, madrassas instruct their students in accordance with the sectarian beliefs of the schools' sponsors5 (JIR Jan. 1999, 34; HRCP 1997, 88-89, 173; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 690; The Herald Oct. 1996, 54), leading Jane's Intelligence Review to describe them as "less centres of spiritual development and more breeding grounds for sectarian intolerance and hatred" (Jan. 1999, 34; see also Choudary 29 May 1999). Discipline inside the schools is very harsh (HRCP 1998, 223), and the students are indoctrinated in the spirit of jihad (ibid.; The Herald Dec. 1997, 64; AP 12 Oct. 1998). The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), citing a Punjab government report, states that about one-third of the 2,5006 registered madrassas in Punjab are known to impart military training to their students, and to be directly involved in sectarian attacks (HRCP 1998, 222; ibid., 1997, 88-89, 173; The Herald Oct. 1996, 54). Sources indicate that these religious schools churn out huge numbers of graduates each year, most of whom have few skills that will allow them to fit into mainstream Pakistani society (ibid., June 1994b, 33; ibid., Sept. 1998a, 30; AP 12 Oct. 1998). According to the Karachi-based monthly The Herald, madrassa graduates "comprise a crucial component of the extremist religious parties, forming the bulk of their street power" (Sept. 1998a, 30). Many of the founders and leaders of these sectarian groups obtained their early religious educations in the madrassas, particularly those in Punjab province (The News 22 Feb. 1997).

Much of the support for sectarian organizations, both Shia and Sunni, comes from the urban middle classes, often from people recently arrived from rural areas (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 705-7, 709). Sectarian organizations offer support and anchorage to the upwardly mobile middle class, or those who aspire to join it, and are especially appealing when mainstream political institutions appear bankrupt (ibid., 708; International Affairs 1997, 329-330). These organizations produce vast amounts of sectarian literature, the estimated cost running to millions of rupees each month, much of it available free-of-charge (The Herald June 1994c, 31). Almost all of the monthly and fortnightly journals published by madrassas, religious associations and sectarian organizations carry numerous advertisements from shopkeepers, small merchants and some larger businesses as well (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 710 n70). In addition to the support they receive from their parent organizations, the armed militant groups sponsored by these organizations receive funding from "invisible patrons," often extremist groups in the Middle East or Iran (The Herald June 1994c, 30; ibid., Sept. 1998b, 29; International Affairs 1997, 329-330). Some groups also raise funding from criminal activities such as gun-running, armed robberies, kidnapping for ransom, qabza (forceful seizure and occupation of land) activities and mercenary terrorist activities (IDSA Dec. 1998; The Herald June 1994c, 30; ibid., June 1994a, 37). Journalist Azhar Abbas, who writes on current political affairs for The Herald, states that many of the gunmen in the employ of sectarian groups are essentially professional hitmen, available for hire either for sectarian or criminal purposes (26 May 1999).

Violent sectarian conflict began in Punjab in the mid-1980s as a vendetta between leaders of the militant Sunni-Deobandi political party Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP, Guardians of the Friends of the Prophet) and the Shia political party, the Tehrik-e Jafria Pakistan (TJP, Movement for Shia Law) (The Herald Apr. 1998, 41), but soon spread to other provinces7 (Jilani 1998, 126-27). According to sources, the extremist factions of both parties, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ, Army of Jhangvi) and the Sipah-e-Mohammedi Pakistan (SMP, Guardians of the Prophet), are responsible for the majority of sectarian killings in Pakistan (The Herald Apr. 1998, 41; ibid., Sept. 1996, 78; Jilani 1998 126-27; Muslimedia 16-31 Mar. 1998). Although sectarian killings are almost always carried out by teams of two or more attackers and are directed at members of the rival branch (HRCP 1997, 85), violent clashes between members of the Deobandi, Barelvi and Ahl-e Hadith Sunni subsects are not unknown (ibid., 1998, 134, 136; Jilani 1998, 126-27). In the beginning both groups primarily targeted the other's hitmen (The Herald Aug. 1997, 37), but then changed tactics and began targeting high-profile members of the two communitiesdoctors, lawyers, businessmen, intellectuals and government officials (ibid., Apr. 1998, 41; HRCP 1997, 85). Even more recently they have switched to indiscriminate reprisal killings, such as attacks on mosques, in which anyone even remotely connected to the other branch is a potential target (ibid., 86-87; The Herald Aug. 1997, 37; ibid., Jan. 1999, 101-2).

Sectarian violence in one part of the country can lead to reprisals in another. The killing of three Shias in Multan, Punjab, on 30 March 1998, for example, was linked to a major sectarian clash in Hangu, NWFP, several days earlier that resulted in many deaths and injuries (PPI 30 Mar. 1998). Azhar Abbas notes as well that while there have always been Sunni-Shia conflicts in Pakistan, most often they took the form of random, spontaneous outbursts such as riots, not targeted or indiscriminate reprisal killings (26 May 1999). Sectarian riots were much more common in years past than they are now, according to Abbas, who cannot recall a sectarian riot in Karachi in the last 10 or 15 years, roughly corresponding to the period that targeted killings have become the norm (ibid.).

Sources have often commented on the ambiguous relationship that has evolved between the armed sectarian groups and their parent organizations (The Herald June 1997, 55-6; ibid., Aug. 1997, 37; ibid., Oct. 1996, 54; ibid., June 1994c, 31; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 6). While the mainstream religious parties often downplay their involvement in sectarian conflict, police officials and other observers are convinced these parties have "deep links" to and are able to influence their respective suborganizations or splinter groups (The Herald Oct. 1996, 54; ibid., June 1994c, 31; ibid., Aug. 1997, 37; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 6). The leaders of the major religious parties have rarely condemned the violent activities of their armed factions or pressured them to stop their activities (The Herald Oct 1996a, 54; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 698). In addition to the tacit approval they enjoy from the mainstream religious parties, sectarian militant groups can draw on "widespread and deeply entrenched" support networks in Pakistani society (The Herald June 1997, 56; Dawn 3 Feb. 1999; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7). According to one senior police officer who spoke to The Herald, "a large number of people collect information about the target before they [the hit men] arrive in the area. Refuge at a madrassa is arranged in advance, and they are given weapons and logistical support from a place near the target area" (June 1997, 56). This "far-reaching network of accomplices and sympathisers constitutes the real strength of sectarian mafias," according to The Herald (ibid.; see also Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 698), and is "practically impossible to break" because "each hit man has his own contacts and no one member of the group knows all of the others" (The Herald June 1997, 56).


3.1 Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan (TJP)

The TJP traces its origins to the establishment in March 1979 of the Tehrik-e Nefaz-e Fiqh-e Jafria (TNFJ, Movement for the Implementation of Shia Law), a religious pressure group formed in response to General Zia ul-Haq's Islamization policies, which favoured Pakistan's Sunni majority (Religion in Politics 1989, 207; Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 189; JIR Jan. 1999, 34; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 693). The objectives of the TNFJ were to formulate an Islamic constitution based on Shia principles as expounded by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, unite the Shia community, protect Shia rights in a Sunni-majority state, and actively involve Shias in Pakistani politics (Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 189; Ahmed 1987, 282). The TNFJ adopted "an aggressive, confrontational style of politics" in its early years (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 697; The Herald June 1994a, 35-36; Ahmed 1987, 282), especially after formation of the Sunni SSP in the early 1980s (The Herald June 1994a, 35-36). The organization split in 1984, with a moderate, traditionalist group going one way, and a more militant reformist faction another (ibid.; Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 189). Both groups regarded themselves as pro-Khomeini (ibid., 187). In 1987 or 1988 the TNFJ changed its name to the Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan and registered as a political party (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 697; Religion in Politics 1989, 207; JIR Jan. 1999, 34). The TJP moved to a more moderate stance after the assassination of its second leader, Allama Arif Al-Hussaini, in Peshawar in August 1988 (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 697; The Herald June 1994c, 29; Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 189). The move reportedly gave rise to several splinter groups, including the SMP, a violent anti-Sunni faction (see subsection 3.2) (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 697; FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24). Azhar Abbas agrees that while the TNFJ may have had direct involvement in sectarian attacks, the TJP is a relatively moderate mainstream political party (26 May 1999). He states that while the TJP still has militants in its ranks, and there may be isolated cases of their involvement in sectarian attacks, in general the TJP is not directly involved in such attacks (ibid.).

The TNFJ/TJP remained the main political organization for Shias throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s, but a recent report indicates there have been growing divisions within the party since at least 1995 (The Herald Sept. 1998c, 48a). The Shurae Wahdat-e Islami (Council of Islamic Unity), a Shia umbrella organization claiming to represent all Shia political activism, was created in August 1998, thereby usurping a role previously claimed by the TJP (ibid.). There reportedly had been increasing dissatisfaction among the party's affiliated groups with the leadership style of Allama Sajid Naqvi, the TJP leader considered the "undisputed patriarch of Shia politics in Pakistan" (ibid.). According to The Herald, many resented the absence of a consultative process within the party's decision-making machinery, preferring a leadership based on discussion and agreement among members rather than one based on a single individual (ibid.). As well, TJP hard-liners had become increasingly unhappy with the moderate positions taken by the party, while moderates were unhappy with its inability to check increasing anti-Shia militancy in Pakistan (ibid.; AFP 12 Feb. 1999). However, the Shurae Wahdat-e Islami has generated very little media attention since its founding, which Azhar Abbas suspects may mean that the council has never really established itself (26 May 1999). He believes the council is still in existencea 12 February 1999 AFP report names Senator Syed Abid Hussain al-Hussaini as its secretary-generalbut for the time being the TJP, under Naqvi's leadership, remains the main vehicle for Shia political activity in Pakistan (ibid.).

A second recent major development for the TJP and all militant Shia organizations in Pakistan was the August 1998 defeat by the Taliban of the Hizb-e Wahdat, Afghanistan's militant Shia party (The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29). Based in the Hazara region of Afghanistan, the Hizb-e Wahdat has strong links to Shia groups in Pakistan (ibid.). Media reports indicate that thousands of predominantly Shia ethnic Hazaras were massacred by ethnic Pashtun Taliban fighters following the capture of the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif in August 1998 (The Washington Post 28 Nov. 1998; IPS 3 Sept. 1998). According to The Washington Post, the thousands of Hazaras who took refuge in the Pakistani border city of Quetta have been bent on revenge since news of the killings became known (28 Nov. 1998). Citing Pakistani police and intelligence sources, the report states that Pakistani Shias' "sympathy for their fellow believers killed in Afghanistan has added a new motivation to the sectarian battle" in Pakistan, and that "a natural alliance is building between the fully trained Hazara guerrillas and the [Shiite] militant groups of Pakistan" (ibid.). According to a Quetta police official, Quetta Hazaras "now talk of revenge and settling the score" (ibid.). Further information on this situation was not available in the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

3.2 Sipah-e-Mohammedi Pakistan (SMP)

The precise date of the founding of the Sipah-e-Mohammedi Pakistan (SMP, Guardians of the Prophet) is unclear, with some sources indicating 1990 or 1991 (The Herald June 1997, 57; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 698), and others 1994 (The Herald Dec. 1996, 57; JIR Jan. 1999, 35; The Herald June 1997, 56). A TJP splinter group, the SMP was formed after a TJP affiliate group, the Imamia Students Organization (ISO)8, "became too violent for its own good" and fragmented into smaller groups, with many of its most militant members joining the SMP (ibid., June 1994a, 37). While ISO reportedly advocated a tough line against Sunni extremism (The Daily Telegraph 8 Mar. 1995), by the late 1980s many ISO militants had become increasingly critical of their organization's close connections to the TJP leadership, blaming the TJP leaders for the rapid growth of the Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (The Herald Sept. 1998c, 48b-48c; ibid., June 1994a, 37).

During the early- and mid-1990s, the SMP was considered to be one of the most heavily armed and violent terrorist groups in Punjab (ibid.; JIR Jan. 1999, 35). Led by Ghulam Reza Naqvi and Murid Abbas Yazdani, fellow scholars from the Hoza Ilmia at Qom, Iran9 (The Herald Dec. 1996, 57; ibid., June 1997, 57; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 698 ), the SMP committed itself to "expunging the SSP from the history books, its gunmen attacked SSP activists, Sunni clerics and the offices of any newspapers it deemed unfriendly" (JIR Jan. 1999, 35). In addition to its anti-Sunni operations, the SMP was also suspected of widespread criminal activities, including large-scale gun-running to raise money for its activities (The Herald June 1994a, 37). Like Reza Naqvi, most of the SMP leadership shared rural or small-town backgrounds, religious educations at madrassas in Punjab, elsewhere in Pakistan or Iran, and obtained much of their military training in Afghanistan (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 698). Headquartered in Thokar Niaz Baig, a Shia stronghold in the suburbs of Lahore (ibid.; HRCP 1997, 87; The Herald Dec. 1996, 55), the SMP claimed it had thousands of supporters in Pakistan, and that it had offices abroad10 (ibid., Oct. 1996, 57). One source indicates the group also had influential supporters within the police, military and security establishment, in particular the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) (ibid., Aug. 1997, 38).

Sources indicate the SMP evolved an ambiguous relationship with its parent organization, the TJP, equal to that of the SSP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (see section 4.3) (ibid., June 1997, 56; ibid., June 1994c, 29; ibid., Aug. 1997, 37). While an independent operation and "in no way under [TJP] control" (ibid., June 1994c, 29), the SMP maintained links with the TJP leadership and in public at least was only mildly critical of the party's inability to protect Shias from Sunni militancy (ibid.; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 698). For its part the TJP, while "maintain[ing] a discreet distance" from the SMP, inevitably avoided explicit, unambiguous criticism of the SMP's violent activities (ibid.; The Herald Aug. 1997, 37).

In September 1996 former SMP chief Murid Abbas Yazdani was murdered in Islamabad (ibid., Dec. 1996, 55; ibid., June 1997, 56). An SMP activist arrested for the crime confessed that Reza Naqvi had ordered the killing, precipitating a rebellion against his leadership, which forced him to flee Thokar Niaz Baig and go into hiding (ibid., Dec. 1996, 55; ibid., June 1997, 56). The problems between Yazdani and Naqvi reportedly began in 1995, when the SMP joined the Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC) (ibid., Dec. 1996, 57), a government-initiated committee of 21 religious organizations whose purpose was to work toward sectarian harmony in Punjab (see section 6) (HRCP 1997, 88; Jilani 1998, 127-8; The Herald June 1997, 54). An eight-month squabble over the terms of joining the MYC had split the SMP into two factions, with the Yazdani group leaving Thokar Niaz Baig, establishing a new office in Islamabad, and starting a movement against the Naqvi group (ibid., Dec. 1996, 57). After Naqvi went into hiding following Yazdani's assassination, a new leadership emerged and the two groups eventually resolved their differences, merging into one group again,11but in the meantime police had infiltrated the SMP's network of armed militants, arresting 25 of their 48 targets (ibid., 56; ibid., June 1997, 56). Many of the remaining SMP militants, disgusted with the infighting among the leadership, went underground after the arrests; freed of centralized command, they reportedly scattered across the country to begin operations anew (ibid.). The concentration of power in Thokar Niaz Baig reportedly proved to be the SMP's undoing, as had its proven involvement in criminal activities, which had cost it many sympathizers (ibid.). According to The Herald, neither its foreign sponsors nor the TJP were much interested in bailing the SMP out of its troubles (ibid.).

Recent reports indicate that by 1998, weakened by internal bickering, police infiltration and attacks by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the SMP had "practically disintegrated" (ibid., Jan. 1999, 102; ibid., Sept. 1998b, 29; Abbas 3 June 1999). Its support from outside sources, especially Iran, had dried up (The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29; Abbas 26 May 1999), its benefactors reportedly viewing the SMP's continued existence as detrimental to the cause of Shias in Pakistan (The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29). Despite these setbacks a number of SMP activists were still at large (ibid.,), and at last report the group had its new headquarters in the Imamia Colony in Shahdara, near Lahore, and was beginning to reorganize (ibid., Jan. 1999, 102). Azhar Abbas, while uncertain about the SMP's current activities, believes that the group is still active (26 May 1999). He states that recently the SMP has been retaliating very quickly for sectarian murders of Shias, indicating the group is still a force to be reckoned with12 (ibid.). He clarifies, however, that because of internal divisions the SMP is unable to retaliate in the same manner as its Sunni rival, the SSP, and at present essentially consists of "small groupings in different cities with a very loose, almost no, central command" (ibid., 3 June 1999). According to Abbas the SMP is the only violent Shia sectarian group currently operating in Pakistan, and is responsible for almost all sectarian attacks on Sunnis (ibid., 26 May 1999). Other groups, if they exist, are insignificant in his estimation (ibid.).


4.1 Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI)

The Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI, Conference of Ulema of Islam) is a right-wing religious party founded in 1945 (Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 187-8; JIR Jan. 1999, 35-36; FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24). Associated with the conservative Indo-Muslim Deoband reform movement, the JUI advocates an Islamic state based on Sunni teachings and has called for Islamic revolution (Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 188; Current History Feb. 1999, 81-82, 85; JIR Jan. 1999, 35). Led by Maulana Fazlur Rahman13 and with a power base centred in the Pashtun areas of Baluchistan and NWFP, the JUI has a "fundamental" connection to the Taliban of Afghanistan, JUI-run madrassas having supplied the Taliban with the bulk of its leaders and rank-and-file cadres in the early 1990s (ibid.; Contemporary Religions 1992, 452; The Herald Sept. 1998a, 26; Current History Feb. 1999, 85; ibid., Apr. 1996, 160). Although considered a mainstream religious party, the JUI, like the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and other religious parties, has failed to generate much of a presence in parliament (FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24; Muslimedia 16-31 Mar. 1998).

In December 1998, in the weeks leading up to the holy month of Ramadan, JUI(F) activists set about enforcing their own version of shari'a (Islamic law) in Quetta, a city of about 1.2 million near the Afghan border (The Herald Feb. 1999a, 64). Armed with batons, large groups of JUI activists attacked video rental shops, smashing VCRs and TVs; when the local administration did nothing to protect the shop owners, stop the attackers or charge them, the attacks on video shops became an everyday occurrence (ibid.). Political observers in Quetta speculated that with seven very influential members in the 43-strong Baluchistan provincial assembly, the JUI could have introduced legislation to close video shops during Ramadan, but instead, following the example of the Taliban, chose to employ force (ibid., 65). Although notable both for inspiring and being inspired by the Taliban, the JUI is also important for having spawned at least 11 factions, of which the SSP is considered to be the most violent (FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24; The Herald June 1994a, 35).

4.2 Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP)

The Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP, Guardians of the Friends of the Prophet14) was founded as a JUI suborganization in Punjab's Jhang district in September 1984 (JIR Jan. 1999, 35; The Herald June 1994a, 35; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 706). Established to counter newly assertive Shia groups inspired by the Iranian revolution (Reuters 4 May 1997; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 704), the SSP reportedly was a "relatively peaceful" party while under the JUI's wing, but party leader Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, then the JUI's provincial president, broke away from the JUI soon after the SSP15 was founded (The Herald June 1994a, 35). While the JUI had broader views about how an Islamic state should be run, the SSP advocated a "purely Sunni state in which all other sects [would] be declared non-Muslim minorities" (ibid.; FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24).

The SSP grew rapidly; from a limited presence in Jhang district in the 1980s, the SSP had become one of the largest religious parties in Punjab by 1994, surpassing even the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) (The Herald June 1994a, 35). A "virulently anti-Shia party" (JIR Jan. 1999, 35; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 702), the SSP's formal goals were to combat Shi'ism on all fronts; to have Shias declared a non-Muslim minority in Pakistan; to proscribe Muharram (Shi'ite commemorative ceremony) processions, which it sees as a leading cause of sectarian riots; and to have Sunni Islam declared the state religion of Pakistan (ibid., 701-02; The Herald Sept 1998b, 29). To that end the SSP initiated a guerrilla war against the Shias shortly after breaking away from the JUI, and militant Shia organizations fought back in the same way16 (ibid., June 1994a, 35; The Friday Times 14-20 Aug. 1998). One of the early casualties of the SSP's violent methods was Jhangvi himself, who was assassinated in February 1990, as was his successor, Isar al-Haq Qasimi, in January 1991 (The Herald June 1994a, 35; Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 705 n53, 707 n60).

Much of the support for the SSP comes from urban Sunni businessmen, many of whom emigrated from India at the time of partition and settled in Jhang where the SSP was founded (ibid., 706). Associations of local traders in Jhang and other urban centres "respond actively" to SSP strike calls and protest marches, the latter often originating in the main bazaars (ibid., 706-07). The party promotes its sectarian views through its official monthly organ, Khilifat-i Rashida (The Rightly Guided Caliphate), which is published in Faisalabad (ibid., 702 n41, 705, 710 n70), and through numerous pamphlets and booklets reproducing what it terms "objectionable material from the Shia history books," and urging the public to get rid of these "blasphemers"17 (The Herald June 1994c, 31; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7). Sources indicate that in addition to the support enjoyed from its urban political constituency the party has wealthy donors in the Middle East (Current History Apr. 1996, 161; The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29), although the Pakistani government once alleged the SSP was largely financed by the Indian and Iraqi intelligence agencies (ibid., June 1994a, 35). The SSP also maintains strong links to both factions of the JUI, reportedly differing with the JUI only over methodology, not beliefs (ibid., Sept. 1998b, 29), and to the Taliban, with which it has links through the JUI and JUI-run madrassas (Current History Feb. 1999, 85; U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations 8 Oct. 1998; The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29; The Friday Times 14-20 Aug. 1998). Many SSP militants are known to have obtained their military experience fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan (U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations 8 Oct. 1998; The Friday Times 14-20 Aug. 1998), and received their training at camps which were probably run by the Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul Ansar (HUA) in Afghanistan (JIR Oct 1997, 467; The Friday Times 14-20 Aug. 1998; The News International 4 Mar. 1999; The Herald Sept. 1998b, 28; ibid., Sept. 1998a, 26). The party reportedly maintains branches in the Middle East, Europe and North America18 (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 704 n51).

In late 1996 The Friday Times reported that the SSP had shifted its headquarters from Jhang district to Bahawalnagar district, bordering Indian Rajasthan (21-27 Nov. 1996, 7). The move reportedly came after frequent crackdowns by police had broken its power base in Jhang, provoking an unsuccessful attempt to first shift its headquarters to Faisalabad, and then finally to Bahawalnagar district (ibid.). According to local sources who spoke to The Friday Times, the SSP located its headquarters in the district's two largest Deobandi madrassasJamiat-ul Aloom Eidgah in Bahawalnagar city, and Dar-ul Aloom Deoband Faqirwali in Fort Abbas subdivision (ibid.). In the months and years preceding its move the SSP had been responsible for a rapid escalation in anti-Shia agitation, violence and targeted killings in Bahawalnagar district, much of which also spilled over to the adjacent districts of Bahawalpur, Vehari and Kanewal (ibid.). Azhar Abbas indicates that the SSP has been expanding very rapidly in Sindh province in the last two years, although to date, Sindh has not seen a corresponding increase in sectarian violence (26 May 1999).

Several high-profile SSP members, including sitting members of the provincial and national assemblies, have been implicated in sectarian murders (HRCP 1997, 87; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7). These include Maulana Tariq Azam, SSP Member of the National Assembly (MNA) for Jhang during the second Bhutto government, named in 10 criminal cases, Maulana Zia-ur Rahman, named in 18 criminal cases, and Sheikh Hakim Ali, Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) and cabinet member, named in eight (HRCP 1997, 87-88; FEER 9 Mar 1995a, 24; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7). Maulanas Tariq Azam and Zia-ur Rahman were implicated in the November 1995 murder of Shahnawaz Pirzada, an influential Shia in Bahawalnagar district and father of Riaz Pirzada, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) MNA in the second Bhutto government (The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 6; Current History Apr. 1996, 158). The elder Pirzada had reportedly played an active role in getting SSP members charged in several murder cases (ibid.). One source reported that in 1995, SSP chief Azam, who travels with 40 heavily armed bodyguards, stated that he expects to die in a sectarian attack and carries his burial shroud with him at all times (FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24).

Arrested SSP members have also admitted to involvement in armed robberies, some of these apparently carried out in "collaboration with elements of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM)," the Karachi-based ethno-political party involved in much of the violence in urban Sindh19 (HRCP 1997, 87; The Age 27 Mar. 1995). One source quotes officials close to the Karachi police force as stating that in 1995 the MQM's Haqiqi faction (MQM-H) had 500 gunmen looking for work after being abandoned by an intelligence agency, and thus allied itself with the SSP (ibid.). The strategy, according to The Age, was to try to split the rival non-sectarian MQM-Altaf faction (MQM-A) group into Sunni and Shia factions, a goal the SSP supported (ibid.). Azhar Abbas indicates that currently there are no known links between violent sectarian groups and either faction of the MQM (26 May 1999). The 1995 SSP-MQM-H alliance was temporary and situation-specific, according to Abbas, who notes that Shia groups reacted by forming a temporary alliance with the MQM's Altaf faction (ibid.).

The SSP has also spawned numerous splinter groups (The Herald June 1994c, 29; Choudary 29 May 1999). According to a January 1994 report prepared by a special branch of the Punjab police, many of these groups are "more personal mafias of influential feudals, led by local maulvis, than organisations in the real sense of the word" (The Herald June 1994c, 29). One police officer who spoke to The Herald described many of these splinter groups as "consist[ing] of thugs seeking a cover for their criminal activities" (ibid.), a characterization with which other sources agree (Choudary 29 May 1999; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7; Muslimedia 16-31 Mar. 1998). Although all are anti-Shia in nature, according to The Herald, they are not coherent organizations with well-defined goals and cannot explain what makes them different from each other ( June 1994c, 29). The SSP has also produced at least five major splinter groups (ibid.) which will be considered in this paper.

4.3 Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and the Harkat-ul Ansar (HUA)

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ, Army of Jhangvi), named after assassinated SSP leader Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, was formed in 1995 or 1996 when radical elements within the SSP split from the party after the leadership opened a dialogue with the leaderships of militant Shia organizations (see section 6) (JIR Jan. 1999, 35; The Herald June 1997, 55; AFP 6 Apr. 1999a). This loose grouping of breakaway SSP men then established the LJ, led by Riaz Basra, who first came to prominence following the killing of an Iranian diplomat in Lahore in 1990 (HRCP 1997, 88; The Herald June 1997, 55; AFP 6 Apr. 1999a; ibid., 6 Apr. 1999b). Under Basra's leadership the LJ has become "one of the most dreaded" militant sectarian organizations in Pakistan in recent years (The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29; see also The Daily Star 7 Apr. 1999). Considered by its membership to be a 'jihadi' organization, the LJ's main battlefield lies within Pakistan, where it has admitted responsibility for numerous massacres of Shias and targeted killings of Shia religious and community leaders (JIR Jan. 1999, 35; The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29; HRCP 1997, 88; The News International 4 Mar. 1999), and in some cases Sunni officials (The Herald June 1997, 55). The group has carried out numerous attacks against Iranian interests and Iranian nationals in Pakistan (AFP 22 Feb. 1998; DPA 12 Jan. 1998; ibid., 21 Feb. 1998; HRCP 1998, 137), and has been implicated in the 3 January 1999 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif near Lahore (The News International 4 Mar. 1999; The Daily Star 7 Apr. 1999; AFP 6 Apr. 1999b; ibid., 6 Apr. 1999a). The LJ is said to be unique among militant sectarian groups as it is the only one that calls newspaper offices to claim responsibility for its attacks (The Herald Oct. 1997, 53; ibid., Feb. 1998a, 46). The group's actions and reasons for committing various attacks are often detailed in its Urdu-language magazine Inteqame Haq (Rightful Revenge), which reportedly is intended for top government leaders and high-ranking bureaucrats and police officials (ibid., Oct. 1997, 53).

Reports in The Herald indicate the LJ has proven much more difficult for the police to infiltrate than was the SMP (ibid., Sept. 1998d, 18; ibid., Oct. 1997, 53; ibid., June 1997, 55). This difficulty is due partly to the ambiguous nature of the relationship that has evolved between the LJ and SSP (ibid.), and partly to the LJ's own organizational structure (ibid., Sept. 1998d, 18; ibid., Oct. 1997, 53). Publicly the SSP leadership insists the LJ is no longer connected to the SSP and denies any involvement in its activities (ibid., June 1997, 55; AFP 6 Apr. 1999a; ibid., 6 Apr. 1999b; The Herald June 1994c, 31), but as The Herald has noted, each organization complements the other well (ibid., June 1997, 55; ibid., June 1994c, 31). The LJ eases the burden on the SSP by carrying out attacks that might prove too politically costly for it (ibid., June 1997, 55; ibid., June 1994c, 31), and has carried out reprisal attacks for the killing of SSP men (ibid., June 1997, 55). While the LJ may not be taking direct orders from the SSP leadership, according to The Herald , "there is no doubt they are carrying out the mission of Maulana Jhangvi. [A]part from the high-profile political activities of the Sipahe Sahaba, there is little to differentiate between the two organizations" (ibid.; see also ibid., May 1999a, 48). According to The Herald, the decentralization of command that has evolved, and the ease with which the SSP can disown terrorist acts, has proven to be a "nightmare" for the law enforcement agencies (ibid., June 1997, 55).

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is organized into small cells of five to eight militants that operate independently of the others (ibid., Sept. 1998d, 18; ibid., Oct. 1997, 53; Dawn 3 Feb. 1999). Individual militants are reportedly unaware of the exact number of cells similar to their own that might be operating in Punjab (The Herald Sept. 1998d, 18), or the nature of upcoming operations (ibid., Oct. 1997, 53). Militants are given cellular phones, which allow the cells to contact one another as necessary (ibid.). After carrying out an attack LJ hitmen are left to their own devices (ibid.), often scattering and then reassembling at HUA-run camps in Afghanistan to plan future operations (The News International 4 Mar. 1999).

One source indicates the job of the law enforcement agencies is sometimes made more difficult by their occasional successes against the LJ. According to The Herald, the arrest of several key SSP/LJ hitmen in the wake of the 11 January 1998 Mominpura graveyard massacre, mentioned earlier, had two unforeseen consequences: first, it drove the remaining known hitmenRiaz Basra, Akram Lahori and otherscompletely underground, where, rather than risk capture by engaging in attacks themselves, they devoted their energies to training new recruits and directing operations; and second, the training allowed a new group of young men to become militants to replace those who had been arrested (Sept. 1998d, 18). Many of these new militants are between 16 and 20 years of age and very well-trained, according to police sources (ibid.). Such young militants generally do not have criminal records and therefore are difficult to identify and arrest, and they tend to be less concerned with how the organization works than with simply obeying the orders of their commanders (ibid.).

Sources indicate the LJ has strong links to the Kashmiri militant group Harkat-ul Ansar (HUA) (ibid.; The Herald Sept. 1998b, 29; see also JIR Oct.1997, 467), and that many key LJ militants have received their military training in HUA-run camps in Afghanistan (The News International 4 Mar. 1999). A confidential intelligence report to the Pakistan government obtained by The News International states that in early 1999, 800 Pakistanis were under training at HUA's Khalid Bin Waleed camp in Afghanistan, most of them connected to the SSP/LJ (ibid.). According to the report, the standard training period "consists of 4-8 weeks during which the trainees are provided extensive training in handling of sophisticated small arms, preparation and handling of improvised explosive devices and handling of explosives, [and] hit-and-run tactics" (ibid.). The report states that the 11 January 1998 Mominpura massacre was carried out by HUA-trained LJ militants, as was the 3 January 1999 assassination attempt on Prime Minister Sharif (ibid.). At the time the intelligence report was written, Riaz Basra and several other LJ leaders had taken refuge in HUA camps in Afghanistan (ibid.).

Recent sources indicate the law enforcement agencies may be gaining the upper hand in their fight against the LJ (also see section 6). The News International reports that on 16 November 1998 police arrested Mazhar-ul Haqreportedly Riaz Basra's "right-hand man"and 12 other LJ activists from Bhera, Gujrat and Bahauddin (ibid., 17 Nov. 1998). On 5 April 1999 Basra himself was reported to have been killed in a shootout with police in Sargodha, Punjab (The Daily Star 7 Apr. 1999; AFP 6 Apr. 1999a; Dawn 6 Apr. 1999b), but these reports were later denied by the Punjab government (AFP 6 Apr. 1999b; Xinhua 6 Apr. 1999; Radio Pakistan 7 Apr. 1999). On 14 April 1999 four LJ gunmen were killed at Langharwal, about 35 kilometres from Chiniot, on the main Jhang road, after a five-hour gun battle with elite special forces units (The Herald May 1999b, 49). Among the four militants was LJ second-in-command, Ejaz Ahmed Tara, alias Jajji, and Tariq Virk, reportedly the LJ's most experienced explosives expert (ibid.). Jajji and Virk had been implicated in major sectarian killings in Punjab, including that of MPA Ghulam Sawag (ibid.). The four were reportedly cornered by police after a botched attempt to kidnap a wealthy member of Rabwah's Qadiani community (ibid.).


While the SSP, SMP and LJ are responsible for the vast majority of violent sectarian activity in Pakistan, there are also a number of smaller, less prominent groups. Three of these groups, the Sunni Tehrik, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi and Tehrik-e-Tulaba, will be discussed in the following subsections.

5.1 Sunni Tehrik

Little is known about the Sunni Tehrik (Sunni Force), but The Herald indicates it began in the early 1990s as a splinter group of the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP) (Association of Ulema of Pakistan) (ibid., June 1994c, 29; ibid., June 1994a, 36-37). A fundamentalist political party established by left-wing mullahs in 1948 that advocates an Islamic state based on progressive Sunni Islamic principles (Islam and Islamic Groups 1992, 188; Political Parties of the World 1988, 413; Political Parties of Asia and the Pacific 1985, 904), the JUP represents the Barelvi movement within Pakistani Islam (Contemporary Religions 1992, 452; IDSA Dec. 1998; Abbas 26 May 1999), and is especially strong in the small towns and countryside of Punjab (Contemporary Religions 1992, 452). The Barelvis, who are the largest Sunni stream in Pakistan (ibid.), reportedly perceive themselves as members of the sawad-e azam (great majority) and "do not regard Shias as Muslims" (Ahmed 1987, 283). Nevertheless, the JUP is a mainstream political party, according to Azhar Abbas and has no direct links to violent sectarian groups (26 May 1999).

Although there are many Barelvi "factions" in Pakistan, the only violent Barelvi group known is the Sunni Tehrik (ibid.). Currently led by Maulana Tahir Qadri (Choudary 29 May 1999), the group reportedly grew very rapidly in Faisalabad and Jhang districts in 1993 and 1994 (The Herald June 1994a, 36-37). The Sunni Tehrik reportedly drew the bulk of its membership from disaffected former JUP members and a huge network of Barelvi madrassas called Zia-ul Quran where "the only subjects for debate are the differences between Deobandis and Barelvis" (ibid., June 1994c, 29; ibid., June 1994a, 36-37). Other than the fact that it is anti-Shia in outlook (ibid., June 1994c, 29), little is known about its aims and objectives (ibid. June 1994a, 36-37). In 1994 The Herald reported that some of the group's leaders were suspected of involvement in criminal activities, including major armed robberies in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha and Sialkot, and of acting as musclemen for small-time local landlords (ibid.). In early April 1999, a former MQM unit chief was implicated in the murder of a Sunni Tehrik activist in Karachi (Dawn 3 Apr. 1999). According to Azhar Abbas, there have also been recent reports of violent clashes between Sunni Tehrik and SSP/LJ militants, the likely motive being control of territory (26 May 1999).

5.2 Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM)

The Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM, Movement for the Defence of Mohammad's Law) is a militant, tribally based Wahabi party that first came to prominence in 1994 when it led an armed uprising in support of shari'a in Malakand division, NWFP (JIR Jan. 1999, 36; The Herald Feb. 1999b, 59; Extremist Groups 1996, 1091). The group's call to arms drew large numbers of experienced Afghan fighters from nearby Peshawar, Mohmand and Bajaur regions, and "quickly spun out of control" (The Herald Feb. 1999b, 59). At least 40 people, including a PPP MNA and more than a dozen paramilitary troops, were killed in a week of fighting before the Sherpao government was able to reestablish law and order (ibid.). In 1995, eight TNSM militants and a policeman were killed in land clashes in Swat, NWFP (Extremist Groups 1996, 1091). According to The Herald, some observers report that as much as 50 per cent of the group's membership may consist of criminals (Feb 1999b, 59).

Led by Sufi Mohammed, the TNSM operates primarily in the tribal belt, such as in Swat and the adjoining districts of NWFP, and continues to demand implementation of shari'a (Dawn 6 Apr. 1999a; Extremist Groups 1996, 1091; Choudary 29 May 1999). In an August 1998 speech to thousands of supporters in Peshawar, Sufi Mohammed reportedly declared that those opposing the imposition of shari'a in Pakistan were wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of death) (JIR Jan. 1999, 36). Although well-established in NWFP, the TNSM has had only limited success in expanding its activities beyond the tribal areas of the province (Abbas 26 May 1999). According to Azhar Abbas, the TNSM is currently consolidating its position in NWFP and seems uninterested in expansion (ibid.). Professor Choudary states as well that the strategy of the current NWFP government of Mehtab Abbasi seems to be to work with the TNSM rather than confront it (29 May 1999; The Herald February 1999b, 60). Sources indicate the government recently announced concessions with regard to implementation of shari'a in the area (ibid., 59; Choudary 29 May 1999). The details are still sketchy, but Sufi Mohammed is now reportedly supporting the government (ibid.).

5.3 Tehrik-e-Tulaba

A student organization, the Tehrik-e-Tulaba (Movement of Students), like the TNSM, is a Taliban-type organization seeking to impose shari'a in Pakistan (ibid.; The Herald Feb. 1999b, 60). The group was established in Orakzai Agency, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and thus far its activities have been confined there (Choudary 29 May 1999; The Herald Feb. 1999b, 60; Country Reports 1998 1999, section 1c). On 13 December 1998 a shariat court established by the group fined six alleged accomplices for a murder and burned down their homes as punishment (ibid.); the murderer was publicly executed the same day (ibid., section 1e).

5.4 Jihadi Groups

Although outside the scope of this report, as indicated earlier there are a number Pakistan-based jihadi organizations operating in Afghanistan and Kashmir. The top three such groups are the Harkat-ul Ansar (HUA), Hizb-ul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (Indian Express 31 Dec. 1998; The Daily Star 28 May 1999); one source indicates there may be a dozen or more groups operating in Kashmir alone (JIR Oct. 1997, 466). The Government of Pakistan maintains that it opposes "terrorism" and does not provide training or arms to sectarian militants fighting in Kashmir (Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 1999), but sources are in general agreement that it does provide these groups with political, diplomatic and moral support (ibid.; Indian Express 31 Dec. 1998; JIR Oct. 1997, 466-68; The Herald Sept. 1998e, 55; ibid. Sept. 1998b, 28). However, sources do disagree over the nature and strength of links between jihadi organizations and militant sectarian groups operating in Pakistan. While Azhar Abbas believes any links would be indirect, taking the form of moral support for organizations that follow the stream of Islam (26 May 1999), other sources indicate that jihadi organizations have strong links to violent sectarian groups in Pakistan, in particular the LJ and SSP, and to mainstream Sunni parties like the JI and JUI (The Herald Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 53; JIR Oct. 1997, 467; ibid., Jan. 1999, 35; Choudary 29 May 1999). Since the jihadi organizations raise funding and recruit volunteers in Pakistan (Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 1999; The Herald Sept. 1998b, 28; The Globe and Mail 20 Aug. 1998; JIR Oct. 1997, 467), at a minimum they "create a fertile ground for the operations of militant and terrorist groups in Pakistan," indicates one source (Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1998 1999). In early 1998 The Herald reported that jihadi organizations "have already begun to open up a front against kufr (apostasy) and shirk (polytheism) at home" (Jan. 1998, 130), and in another article, it reported that militants have been recalled from Afghanistan to carry out operations in Pakistan (ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 52).


Sources agree that the state response to sectarian groups and sectarian violence has been intermittent, inconsistent and often incoherent (FEER 9 Mar. 1995a, 24; Current History Apr. 1996, 160-61; Jilani 1998, 127; The Herald Oct. 1996, 56; ibid., Jan. 1999, 102). Government anti-sectarian measures have tended to be reactive rather than proactive (HRCP 1997, 89), and the few legislative measures to control sectarian violence have failed20(Jilani 1998, 127; The Herald Jan. 1999, 101; HRCP 1997, 89; ibid., 1998, 34-36). According to reports of The Herald and the HRCP, successive governments have done little to prevent young people from joining sectarian groups, have taken no action against the thousands of madrassas preaching sectarian hatred, and have had no consistent policies to manage sectarian divisions or improve religious tolerance (The Herald Jan. 1999, 102; HRCP 1997, 89). Sources indicate that governments have been intimidated by the militancy of fundamentalist religious groups and their violent splinter groups (Jilani 1998, 127; HRCP 1997, 89-90; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7), and that, when arrested, sectarian militants have often been let off with small bribes or have received preferential treatment at the hands of police and jail authorities (The Herald Sept. 1996, 78; ibid., Feb. 1998a, 47; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7). The inconsistency in government policy, according to The Herald, carries down to the district administration level, where deputy commissioners and superintendents of police have been known to go to great lengths to accommodate the leaders of militant sectarian groups, sometimes according them VIP status and providing police escorts (Oct. 1996, 56). In cases where police officials have seriously pursued sectarian criminals, often their efforts have received little support from government officials or politicians (ibid., June 1997, 57). One police officer in Bahawalpur district told The Friday Times in late 1996 that without first obtaining "clearance from the top," police there were unable to arrest prominent persons suspected of involvement in sectarian murders (21-27 Nov. 1996, 7).

During its years in office, the Bhutto government, dependent on SSP support in the Punjab provincial assembly, treated the group with "kid gloves" (Current History Apr. 1996, 161), even taking an SSP MPA into cabinet21(The Herald Oct. 1996, 56). Often government anti-sectarian measures come into conflict with its national security policies. A 15 October 1998 report by the Paris-based Geopolitical Drug Watch (OGD) describes Pakistan as a "narco-state" where "drug traffickers, politicians, senior officials and members of the military are entangled in an intricate web of illegal narcotics-related activities" (Dawn 16 Oct. 1998), and alleges that Pakistani government intelligence agencies, in particular the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have long used drug money to finance the work of armed militant groups in Afghanistan and Kashmir (ibid.). Analyst Anthony Davis has pointed out the inconsistency in Pakistani security policies, noting that "young zealots wanted by the police for sectarian violence in Pakistan find sanctuary with foreign movement[s] supported by Pakistan's own intelligence apparatus" (Asiaweek 8 Jan. 1999).

One source invokes what it calls the "doctrine of injured religious sentiment" to explain the lack of coherent government policies to counter sectarian violence (The Herald Feb. 1998b, 49). According to The Herald, the explosion of sectarian violence

stems from the state's own acceptance of sectarianism and sectarian violence as a way of life and as a reasonable means of expressing dissatisfaction. The problem lies in the kind of thinking that holds injured religious sentiments to be more sacred than the right to an orderly civic life. This mentality is reinforced with every new step that the government takes to control the spread of sectarian rivalries (ibid., 50).

One such step was the creation in early 1995 of the Milli Yakjehti Council (MYC, National Solidarity Council), in which the government attempted to engage 21 sectarian groups and religious parties in dialogue (HRCP 1997, 88; Jilani 1998, 128; The Herald Oct. 1996, 53). The council was intended to help the Punjab government find a solution to sectarian strife and to restore the positive image of religious parties after years of escalating violence (HRCP 1997, 88; Jilani 1998, 128; The Herald Oct. 1996, 53). The government was quick to claim it had put an end to sectarian violence in Pakistan, but eventually the MYC proved ineffective (HRCP 1997, 88; Jilani 1998, 128; The Herald Oct. 1996, 53). The SMP and SSP were the first to withdraw, claiming the council's proposed code of ethics imposed on the central tenets of their beliefs, and by the fall of 1995 the MYC was falling apart (Jilani 1998, 128; The Herald Oct. 1996, 53). Just prior to formation of the council the government had launched a crackdown on sectarian groups, arresting over 200 religious party activists, and reportedly was moving to restrict the growth of madrassas (ibid.). However, the government abandoned its operation when the MYC was formed, with the result that the council broke up as soon as the perceived threat was over22 (ibid.). According to The Herald, more than a decade of such peace councils, high-profile meetings and legal manoeuvering achieved little or nothing of substance (ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50), except perhaps to enhance the political credibility of the leaders of sectarian organizations (ibid., June 1997, 54).

In August 1997 the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) government of Nawaz Sharif passed the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) (HRCP 1998, 34; AI 1998). Intended to prevent "terrorism, sectarian violence and [provide] for speedy trial[s]" (HRCP 1998, 34; AI 1998), the ATA was severely criticized by lawyers, politicians, human rights activists, international human rights organizations and the public for "its harsh provisions, for legalising extra-judicial killings by police and for raising a parallel judicial system" (HRCP 1998, 36; Current History Dec. 1997, 424; AI 1998). The act gave police sweeping powers to use lethal force against anyone "committing, or believed to be about to commit, a terrorist offence," and set up special anti-terrorist courts in Sindh and Punjab to try persons charged with terrorist offences (ibid.; HRW 1998, 2; Country Reports 1998 1999, section 1e). These courts, in which the legal safeguards found in regular courts did not apply, stipulated that trials must be concluded within seven days and prevented appeals to higher courts (AI 1998; HRCP 1998, 35-36; HRW 1998). Petitions were filed challenging the constitutionality of these courts, and in May 1998 the Supreme Court struck down the act as unconstitutional, ordering the government to amend it (Country Reports 1998 1999, sections 1c, 1e; HRW 1998).

Recent sources indicate the government has begun taking a much harder line on sectarian militants, applying the same methods used against ethno-political violence in Karachi in 1995 (The Herald Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 54; ibid., Jan. 1999, 102; JIR Mar. 1999, 6). Beginning about September 1998, according to The Herald, the attitude of the Punjab police "appears to have undergone a dramatic transformation" (Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 54; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50). Across the province police began conducting large-scale raids against sectarian militants, primarily those belonging to the SSP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 54; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50; JIR Mar. 1999, 6; Country Reports 1998 1999, section 1d; AP 4 Apr. 1999), with some detainees reportedly being "tortured" and eliminated in staged "encounter killings" (The Herald Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 54; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50; Dawn 26 Dec. 1998). The change in policy was reportedly brought on by increasing government frustration with the courts and the failure of legislative initiatives such as the ATA (The Herald Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50-51), and the reported breakdown of an unwritten agreement between police and sectarian militants that law enforcement personnel would not be targeted as long as the law enforcement agencies refrained from seriously investigating the activities of sectarian organizations (ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 54; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50). Citing "inside" sources, The Herald reports that as early as May 1997 Punjab chief minister Shabaz Sharif had warned sectarian militants to "mend their ways or face a severe crackdown" (ibid.). Some provisions of the ATA were found to be unconstitutional by both the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court (Country Reports 1998 1999, section 1e). With the failure of the Anti-Terrorist Courts, which produced only a handful of convictions before being stopped by both the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court (ibid.), and an increasing number of threats and attacks on police officials by sectarian militants during the summer of 1998, police and government officials apparently decided a General Babar-style23 operation was the only way to end sectarian violence on a permanent basis (The Herald Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50-51; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 54-55). By late January 1999, 17 SSP activists had been killed in "faked" encounters with police, according to Punjab SSP president Sheikh Hakim Ali24 (AFP 31 Jan. 1999). In December 1998 a special anti-terrorist court in Multan, Punjab, sentenced to death 14 Shia and Sunni militants convicted in 1996 and 1997 attacks on an Iranian cultural centre and the Al-Khair mosque in Multan (JIR Mar. 1999, 6; The Herald Jan. 1999, 102; AFP 29 Jan. 1999). One source indicates it was the largest ever single conviction count for terrorist crimes in Punjab (JIR Mar. 1999, 6).

Reports indicate that not all police officials condone the new policy. Senior police officers have reportedly warned that killing sectarian terrorists in staged encounters will "only make matters worse" (The Herald Jan. 1999, 102; ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 54-55). One senior officer warns that by killing suspects, police are deprived of opportunities to extract information about their networks (ibid., 55). He also stated that individual militants are backed by organizations full of highly trained and motivated gunmen who can cause serious problems both for the police and the government (ibid.). Another senior officer suggests that by killing suspects in staged encounters the police are sending the message to the militants that they will be killed "even if they surrender", which only makes them more desperate (ibid., Jan. 1999, 102). A third officer indicates that the policy of faked encounter killings has contributed to further deterioration in police professionalism: "Police officials know they need not prepare their cases for the courts [because they] can easily resort to extra-judicial killings. Consequently, police officials have started to ignore proper investigation procedures and prosecution of the cases" (ibid., May 1999c, 52). The Herald notes that in recent years the hard-line sectarian parties had distanced themselves from the militants in their ranks, but since the staged killings started, they have begun welcoming the militants back (ibid., Jan. 1999, 102). As well, police officers assigned to combat sectarian terrorists now live under constant threat of reprisal (ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998a, 55).

Another problem is that the government has not reversed the policies that fuelled sectarian violence in the first place (ibid., Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 52). It continues to patronize jihadi organizations in Afghanistan and Kashmir (ibid.; JIR Mar. 1996, 6), and has done nothing, according to sources, to improve the shoddy investigation and prosecution procedures responsible for many undeserved acquittals (The Herald Apr. 1999, 32; Country Reports 1998 1999, section 1e; The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 6). One report indicates that in August and September 1998 the prime minister's secretariat received three intelligence reportsone each from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a combined report from various intelligence agencieson the activities and financial resources of militant sectarian organizations training volunteers for jihad (Dawn 5 Mar. 1999). These reports, the product of a year-long intelligence-gathering operation, reportedly have resulted in no actions or decisions other than to "continue the confirmation process" (ibid.).

After indicating it would amend the ATA to bring it into conformity with the constitution (HRW 1998; Country Reports 1998 1999, section 1c), in December 1998 the government established Military Trial Courts (MTCs), but in February 1999 these too were declared illegal by the Supreme Court (HRW 18 Feb. 1999; AP 28 Apr. 1999; AFP 29 Apr. 1999). Then, on 28 April 1999, the government established new anti-terrorism courts by presidential ordinance (The Daily Star 29 Apr. 1999; Dawn 29 Apr. 1999). The new ordinance, the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 1999, retained many of the provisions of the ATA, but added a new offence called "creation of civil commotion" (AP 28 Apr. 1999; Dawn 29 Apr. 1999; ibid., 1 May 1999). The new provision has been widely criticized by opposition parties, human rights groups and the Pakistani press as threatening the constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and to express political dissent (AFP 1 May 1999; Dawn 1 May 1999). The new courts, which began functioning in Karachi on 12 May 1999 and handed down their first death sentence three days later (DPA 12 May 1999; AFP 15 May 1999), were expected to soon be functioning in other cities in Sindh and Punjab (DPA 12 May 1999; AFP 15 May 1999).

In April 1999, Prime Minister Sharif met with TJP and SSP leaders in Islamabad (Dawn 1 Apr. 1999; The Herald May 1999a, 48). The purpose of the meeting was to bring the two groups closer together and find a solution to sectarian violence (Dawn 1 Apr. 1999; The Herald May 1999a, 48 ). The prime minister subsequently announced the creation of a "high-powered committee of Ulema and religious scholars" to formulate recommendations on the elimination of sectarian violence in Pakistan (Dawn 4 Apr. 1999a; The Herald May 1999a, 48). The 10-member committee brought forward a number of recommendations, but one week later the TJP pulled out of the committee, accusing its head, Dr. Israr Ahmed, of being a controversial person and disregarding decisions taken by the committee (ibid., 48-49). Ahmed himself subsequently resigned, stalling the committee's work and leaving its future uncertain (ibid.).


Abbas, Azhar

Azhar Abbas is a senior reporter who writes on current political affairs for the Karachi-based monthly, The Herald.

Choudary, Maqsood

Maqsood Choudary, who is from Sialkot, Punjab, is a professor of political science at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Professor Choudary is a Middle East specialist whose areas of interest are the politics of modernization and development, state formation, state-society relations, and social and political movements in Syria and Pakistan.

The Friday Times

The Friday Times, an independent, English-language, weekly news magazine is based in Lahore. The owner, Najam Sethi, was recently arrested as part of a country-wide attack on journalists who are critical of the government (AP 23 June 1999; IPS 4 June 1999).

The Herald

A Karachi-based monthly, The Herald, is one of Pakistan's most widely read, respected and influential English-language news magazines. The magazine is known for its timely, detailed coverage of national and provincial political affairs and events of national significance. Affiliated to the Dawn group of newspapers, The Herald maintains offices in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, Quetta and Hyderabad. An independent publication, the magazine maintains an Internet Website at <>.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)

The non-governmental organization, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) produces an annual report that covers a wide range of human rights issues in Pakistan, including the administration of justice, law and order situation, conduct of law-enforcement agencies, jail conditions and the treatment of prisoners, freedom of the press and rights of women, children and labour. In addition to monitoring and publicizing human rights issues, the HRCP also engages in legal advocacy. As of spring 1999, the HRCP has an Internet Website that can be accessed at <>.


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1. The following Responses to Information Requests, available in the IRB's Regional Documentation Centres, the REFINFO database and on the Internet Website at <>, also address aspects of Sunni-Shia sectarian violence in Pakistan: PAK31812.E of 28 April 1999; PAK31672.E of 21 April 1999; PAK31582.E of 15 April 1999; PAK31581.E of 13 April 1999; PAK31579.E of 13 April 1999; and PAK29941.E of 4 September 1998.

2. According to Professor Maqsood Choudary, the principal division among Pakistani Sunnis is that between Deobandis and Barelvis (29 May 1999). Both streams are products of 19th century Indo-Muslim reform movements that emerged from religious seminaries, one located at Deoband and the other at Bareilly, but while Deobandis are followers of the purist Wahabi/Ahl-e Hadith tradition originating in Saudi Arabia, Barelvis are more traditional, retaining influences of Sufism and Hinduism (ibid.; ibid., 31 May 1999).

3. None of the sources consulted differentiated between the three Shia streams, and thus for the purposes of this paper they are treated as one group.

4. In addition to Pakistani militants, the Zia government allowed over 25,000 Islamic militants from 30 countries to train in Pakistan and fight in Afghanistan (Current History Apr. 1996, 161).

5. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), most madrassas follow either Deobandi (48 per cent) or Barelvi (44 per cent) fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), but the Ahl-e Hadith (8 per cent) and Ahl-e Tashih (less than one per cent) branches are also represented (1997, 88-89; ibid. 1998, 222).

6. Estimates of the number of registered madrassas in Pakistan vary from a government-supplied figure of 4,000 to as high as 8,000 (AP 12 Oct. 1998; HRCP 1998, 222; The Herald Dec. 1997, 64); one source puts the number of unregistered religious schools at 25,000 (ibid.). There were 100,000 boys and youths studying in madrassas in 1975; in 1998 total enrolment was estimated at 540,000 to 570,000 (JIR Jan. 1999, 34; AP 12 Oct. 1998), with about 220,000 students in Punjab alone (HRCP 1998, 222). The Herald reports that there are at least 29 religious schools in Karachi with an enrolment of more than 2,000 each, and that the second largest madrassa in Pakistan, the Jamiat-ul-Uloom-ul-Islamia in Binori Town, can accommodate 8,000 students (Dec. 1997, 64-5).

7. According to one 1994 source, four sectarian belts account for practically all of the sectarian violence in Pakistan: Karachi and Hyderabad in urban Sindh; Parachinar district in NWFP; Gilgit and Baltistan in the northern areas; and the Multan-Jhang-Mianwali-Faisalabad belt in Punjab (India Abroad 23 Sept. 1994). In 1994 The Herald described the five districts of Sialkot, Jhang, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Sargodha as forming Punjab's sectarian belt, and thus being a "goldmine" for extremist groups of all types (June 1994b, 33; ibid., June 1994c, 28). More recent sources indicate that sectarian violence has escalated rapidly in Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Vehari and Khanewal districts of Punjab in recent years (The Friday Times 21-27 Nov. 1996, 7), and may be spreading to Sindh province as well (Abbas 26 May 1999). Sources indicate that sectarian violence may have begun in Punjab, specifically Jhang district, because while the general population is overwhelmingly Sunni, the area is ruled by wealthy Shia landowners (Modern Asian Studies July 1998, 700-01; Abbas 26 May 1999).

8. While one source describes the ISO as the TJP's militant student wing (Reuters 7 Mar. 1995) and two others as a militant breakaway faction of the TJP (The Daily Telegraph 8 Mar. 1995; The Herald June 1997, 56), ISO leaders claim the organization has been in existence since 1972, has independent sources of funding and only came under the TJP wing several years later (ibid., Sept. 1998c, 48b-48c). The Herald describes the ISO as having once formed the backbone of the TJP (ibid., 48b).

9. Qom is a leading centre of Shiism, is considered a holy city and has numerous seminaries (St. Vincent 1992, 139-40).

10. In an interview with The Herald in late 1996, Naqvi claimed to have 14,000 "units" in Pakistan (Oct. 1996a, 57). Modern Asian Studies indicates that Shia organizations do have branches in the Middle East, Europe and North America, but does not mention the SMP specifically (July 1998, 704 n51).

11. According to the SMP's new leader, Syed Jabbar Hussein, Naqvi was largely responsible for criminalizing the organization (The Herald Dec. 1996, 56). Implicated in dozens of murders and terrorist attacks and with a Rs 1 million (Can$28,400) reward on his head, Naqvi was arrested in Lahore on 30 December 1996 (AFP 30 Dec. 1996). At last report, late August 1997, Naqvi's case was still before the courts (DPA 22 Aug. 1998). Azhar Abbas states that to the best of his knowledge, Naqvi is still in custody (3 June 1999).

12. Abbas states that most violent sectarian groups have been infiltrated on one level or another, by one security agency or another (26 May 1999). The fact that a group has been infiltrated by a security agency, he states, does not prevent it from continuing to function (ibid.).

13.  Sometimes abbreviated JUI(F), the JUI, under Rahman's leadership, supported Benazir Bhutto's PPP government, and Rahman himself was chairman of the Foreign Affairs Commission (Current History Feb. 1999, 85; India Today 14 Sept. 1998). Another JUI faction, the JUI(S), is led by Maulana Sami-ul Haq and runs two large madrassasthe Dar ul-Uloom Haqania in Akora Khattak, Nowshehra (NWFP), and the Jamia Uloom-ul-Islamiya in Karachi (Current History Feb. 1999, 85; Choudary 29 May 1999). According to Professor Choudary, the Dar ul-Uloom Haqania is a well-known "breeding ground" for the Taliban (ibid.). Azhar Abbas states that the JUI's direct links are to the Taliban rather than to violent sectarian groups operating in Pakistan (26 May 1999). According to Abbas, any links would be indirecti.e., moral support for an organization following the same stream of Islam.

14. The SSP was originally called the Anjuman-e Sipah-e Sihaba Pakistan (ASSP, Society for the Soldiers of the Companions of the Prophet) (JIR Jan. 1999, 35).

15. According to The Herald, the split occurred in 1989, a year before Jhangvi's assassination (June 1994a, 35).

16. One source notes that although Deobandi in orientation, the SSP sometimes worked with Barelvis when common cause against Shias could be found (The Herald June 1994a, 35).

17. According to The Herald, the SSP was the first sectarian organization to publish and distribute, on such a large scale, sectarian literature considered offensive (ibid., June 1994c, 31).

18. Azhar Abbas indicates that little is known about the off-shore activities of Pakistani sectarian organizations (26 May 1999). He speculates that fund-raising and preaching would be key activities, and that the groups would probably operate out of mosques rather than an office. He believes the off-shore branches would be much better established in the Middle East, where most sectarian organizations obtain moral and financial support, than in Europe or North America (ibid.).

19. Information on the MQM and the situation in Karachi can be found in the IRB Question and Answer Series Papers Pakistan: The Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi January 1995-April 1996 (November 1996), and Pakistan: Update on the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi (June 1997), which are available at Regional Documentation Centres, in the IRB REFQUEST database, and on the IRB's Internet Website at <>.

20. For example, in August 1997, after a wave of sectarian killings, the Punjab province banned motorcycle pillion-riding (passenger riding on motorcycle) in order to deter hit-and-run attacks by gunmen using grenades and automatic weapons. According to The Herald, the measure was so ineffective that in December 1998 the government admitted in the Punjab Assembly that of the 1,900 people arrested in Lahore for violating the ban, not a single one turned out to be a terrorist or wanted criminal (Jan. 1999, 101).

21. One source reported in 1994 that since the SSP entered politics "no traditional party can win in at least three districts of lower Punjab without its support" (India Abroad 23 September 1994).

22. The futility of negotiating with such groups, according to The Herald, is that they have no political agenda of any kind that can be realized through dialogue: "[T]heir survival lies in the continuation of violence, which is their only raison d'etre" (June 1997, 54).

23. General Babar was responsible for carrying out the Bhutto government's policy of extrajudicial executions against the MQM in Karachi in 1995 and 1996 (The Herald Nov.-Dec. 1998b, 50). For additional information on the methods employed in the Karachi operation, please consult the November 1996 and June 1997 Question and Answer Series Papers mentioned in footnote 18 of this Issue Paper.

24. The Herald quotes one Punjab police officer as stating "the Punjab government has killed hundreds of people without a judicial trial as a matter of policy" (May 1999c, 52). Although it is unclear how many are sectarian militants, The Herald estimates that since 1997, "as many as 839 people have died [in Punjab] as a result of so-called police encounters (234 in 1997, 453 in 1998 and more than 150 in the first four months of this year)" (ibid.). Other sources agree that extrajudicial executions have become a routine, almost daily occurrence in Punjab (Abbas 26 May 1999; Dawn 5 Apr. 1999).

All information is copyright Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada 1999.
Last updated 1999-10-26