Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cafe Pyala Asks us to Consider that Sipah Sahaba may have been Behind the Abdullah Shah Ghazi Attack - Bonus History of Sectarian Killers in Pakistan

From their twitter feed (and referencing a badly structured The News webpage) and my views at the end:

Was it really the TTP? Why? Just because they ALLEGEDLY said so? How about SSP folks who said this yesterday: The News`s "Strike Against Maulana Ameen's Killing, Today" Article

Exh 1: "Mufti Naeem held Sunni Tehreek responsible for the target killings of religious scholars and declared it a terrorist organisation."

Exh 2: "Mufti Naeem also blamed Iran for involvement in the target killings and demanded of the government to snap diplomatic ties"

Exh 3: "Mufti Naeem added that clerics belonging to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat were at the mercy of these terrorist groups."

Exh 4: "The Sunni Wahdat Council also declared Sahibzada Fazal Karim as a foreign agent."

Exh 5: "Also present on the occasion were Maulana Altaf-ur-Rehman, Maulana Ghulam Rasool, and Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi."

Now recall that 1. Mufti Naeem is head of Jamia Binoria, the training ground for many of the Taliban 2. Sunni Tehreek runs many shrines

3. Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat is the banned Sipahe Sahaba's new name. 4. Aurangzeb Farooqi is head of the Sipahe Sahaba

5. Sahibzada Fazal Kareem is a Barelvi cleric who spoke out against the Taliban and suicide bombings.

What does this mean? Firstly that Cafe Pyala are a group of experienced reporters, with enough time to themselves to post interesting non-Pakistani MSM postulations on twitter. Secondly, that the Al-Qaeda "franchise" is being or has been, transported to multiple Sunni extremist organisations all across Pakistan. These extremist Sunni groups have their own beliefs, their own histories and backgrounds, and their own local fights, rivalries, vendettas and alliances. Look at the names of the organisations raging on. They're all Muslim. Heck, they're all Sunni. It's disgusting that religiosity has spread so wide that a country has active political groups based on varying interpretations of one sect of Islam. No non-Muslim could truly care for the differentiations, they would all be broadly clumped together as in-fighting Muslims. Except in this case they matter for tracking down the murderers of ten people, and the injurers of another 50.

There is also a matter that these sectarian organisations may not be completely cleared out, but that they evolve/devolve by changing names, and letting their militant/murder wing (sometimes the same, sometimes different) just leave to go free lance. What this would mean is that violent sectarian organisations are unfortunately organic, representative of a natural process, yet simultaneously violent. Just look at Lashkar-e-Taiba, which now calls itself Jamat-ud-Dawa. It set the standard during the nineties for being the most deeply disciplined, effective fighting force against Indian forces in Kashmir, but it proved itself so disciplined that it turned around after 9/11, and it's cadre stopped attacks into Kashmir (admittedly because the Pakistan Army asked it not to), and it has not been called out on terrorism in Kashmir. Compare that to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (L.e.J) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (S.S), two organisations which in contrast to L.e.T's fame, were notorious in that same time period for being viciously anti-Shia.

The SS (kinda appropriate) emerged out of the anti-Ahmedi agititation of the seventies and eighties, and with it's initial target declared a non-Muslim, it set it sights on Shias. Throughout the eighties and nineties they became notorious for killing Shia Muslims. When the heat became too much for them in Punjab and Karachi, they withdrew into themselves. By heat, I mean that in Karachi they were being targer assassinated for their murders by the police and Shia revenge squads, and in Punjab, their rural populism/fascism was cutting into the Pakistan Muslim League (then led entirely by Nawaz Sharif) votebank. So with them resorting to murder, they were hunted down and killed.

This is where Laskar-e-Jhangvi comes in. As far as I can tell, the L-e-J came about as a result of sectarian wackos deciding to not bow to the pressure, of you know, being killed one after another, and continue with their "struggle" of having Pakistan be declared an openly Sunni state (I'm serious) so whilst the SSP was convinced with enough bullets to stop killing Shias, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi broke away and continued to kill people. They were hunted down one by one, their followers were tracked till they had to abscond for Afghanistan, and then by around the time just after the US toppled the Taliban the last major hitman/"militant" of the L-e-J, Riaz Basra was discovered and killed, in a Pakistani village called "Dakota". LOL. What is it with our government's propensity to discover out of control militants? LMAO. Oh well. That was the nineties.

Now for this century. The Pakistani government stood by quietly (whistling and winking) whilst it helped/allowed the Afghan Taliban/Al Qaeda militants restart the whole Sunni extemism biz with a focus on US occupied Afghanistan. Sadly Descent into Chaos covers this. And it should be obvious that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi/Sipah-e-Sahaba got their restart in late 2004/early 2005 from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). And now we're here with old and new Sunni militants mixing, matching, switching and reconstituting in Karachi. And yes by the way, these New Young militants imbibed Al Qaeda's ideology of killing and overthrowing the Pakistani government. So we have it there. A New Generation Kill. No wonder that Fahad Desmukh's second Eyewitness recording (in Urdu) has a bystander who helped move the bodies say that from the remaining head of the suicide bomber, he looked 18. Born in 1991/1992/1993? With these abandoned children, who knows?


Shahid said...

SSP was not a product of anti-Ahmedi agitation. It was raised to defend against rising tension that the Iranian revolution would invite Shias in Pakistan to rise. It was and is an anti-Shia organization, but never much cared about Ahmedis.

The LeJ emerged in 1996 after a faction of SSP broke off arguing that leaders had dropped the ideals of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi (killed by Sipah e Muhammad in 1990).

While the factual mistakes might be the result of quick writing and generalized over simplification, all natural by products and nothing serious, there's rising belief that SSP is behind these things and even though SSP has risen again as a force in the past four years, the LeJ remains the more lethal, well organized and deadly militant army.

Want me to send chapters on SSP and LeJ from Amir Mir's "Talibanization of Pakistan", the Bible of militant organizations?

TLW said...

Hey Shahid. First off, thanks for commenting about what you said.

SSP was not a product of anti-Ahmedi agitation.

Agreed. Every report I've heard of it places it's creation somewhere in 1984 or 1985. It also always places its creation in Jhang district. Up until oh, last year Rabwah, the centre for Ahmedi-ism in Pakistan was in Jhang district. Only until last year, was the town of Rabwah separated by being put into district Chiniot. My point is that the most virulently anti-Shia, and viciously Sunni organisation predating the TTP arose in the same district that contained the centre of Ahmedi-ism. The thing is that it is deeply possible that the the Khatm-e-Nabuwat movement directly inspired the anti-Shia movement in the pressure cooker days of the Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship. With no end in sight to the overt religiosity, an opportunity to cash in with money and power amongst the Mujahideen sector, an anti Shia Saudi Arabia to patronise them, the class conflict ridden shopkeepers of Jhang must have felt that it would be a good time to cash in. And inspired by the past, in which they'ld managed to get an entire sect declared non-Muslim they must have decided to go to town with another hate based mobilisation campaign. After the "success" of the Khatm-e-Nabuwat movement many fine graduates of it like Haq Nawaz Jhangvi transferred their demagoguery to the Shia Sunni issue. The anti-Shia violence had many causes, the shia sunni class conflict being one of them, but I was referring to the fact that many of the most famous religious speakers in Jhang district, like Haq Nawaz Jhangvi started their careers in the anti-Ahmadi movement.

It was raised to defend against rising tension that the Iranian revolution would invite Shias in Pakistan to rise.

The worry of a "Shia" revolution would be valid, I don't know, right after the revolution. Kinda late to be worrying about Khomeinist incursions in 1985? Or 1984? With Iran engaged in a war with Iraq? With the Saudis and the Gulf States lending like crazy to Saddam Hussein to kill Iranians? With those same people donating to any Pakistanis willing to kill "non-Muslims" (read Russians, Indians and sometimes Shias)? That is a lazy justification. There were local reasons for the formation of the Sipah-e-Sahaba in Jhang. A general air of bigotry is a better explanation than "fear of Shia revolution".

It was and is an anti-Shia organization, but never much cared about Ahmedis.

Yup. I mentioned it in the post, but I remember reading in lots of places that the SSP wanted Pakistan declared a Sunni State. Just as a random example, here's an article from the nineties in an Indian newspaper. That obviously doesn't leave much place for allegedly "non-Muslim" sects.

The LeJ emerged in 1996 after a faction of SSP broke off arguing that leaders had dropped the ideals of Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangvi (killed by Sipah e Muhammad in 1990).

Yup. I didn`t give a date, because I wanted to convey that a gang of exterminationist murderers had been born. I remember 1996, and I also remember very well that whereas Sipah-e-Sahaba although generally referred to in criminal reports, were sporadically mentioned in relation to some political activity (press statements, opinions, generally hateful, etc.) the L-e-J on the other hand, would be mentioned in relation purely to murders and attacks. That kinda tainted my view of them as a a group of people purely interested in killing others. I really have trouble trying to bother about being exact when a group of cold blooded killers assembled independently of the Pakistani state. My interest is when they will be killed.

TLW said...

While the factual mistakes

No Shahid bhai, there were no factual mistakes, the SSP came out of the same miasma that produced the anti-Ahmedi movement. The same feeling of quick to anger that one finds in many Pakistanis,

melded with the particular politics of a place (Jhang), at a particular time (the puritanising and puritanical reign of Zia-ul-Haq) and used the precedent of a previous "succesful" movement (the Khatm-e-

Nabuwat movement) to produce using people hardened in the Saudi and American (both anti-Shia at that time) funded conflict with the Soviet Union, the sectarian organisation now known as Sipah-e-

Sahaba. It's a long and winding sentence, but that's cause it's a long and winding story.

might be the result of quick writing and generalized over simplification

Or I like a good laugh. And keeping it snappy helps, when you're trying to expand people's horizons on our domestic constellation of bigotry.

all natural by products and nothing serious

Of course, of course.

there's rising belief that SSP is behind these things

Don't tell Rehman Malik. He said within 24 hours

that it was a Mehsud from Waziristan. LOL.

and even though SSP has risen again as a force in the past four years


the LeJ remains the more lethal, well organized and deadly militant army.

Again True.

Want me to send chapters on SSP and LeJ from Amir Mir's "Talibanization of Pakistan" the Bible of militant organizations?

You mean from this one? Thanks Yaar I already read the first sentences of each chapter. =D

Shahid said...

Well that was one hell of a reply.
I wouldn't agree that small time traders and shopkeepers cashing in for a ride would be a major cause. Somehow I do feel that there was just rising natural tendency to disregard pluralism in religion. Iran under Shah was never much of a threat but the Deobandi groups saw the revolution as threatening their hold in the region. Moreover, Shias never really minced their opinion when it came to the caliphs and their literature openly carried these views. This just gave the opportunity for the deobandis to come up against them as a united political group - not that there weren't any already - but this time the sole aim being to check "rising" shia influence.

Moreover, the biggest reason in Jhang was/is that the landlords are Shia and the Shias are the minority sect there. The majority sect feels victimized by the Shia landlords and their common anti-shia rhetoric is understandable - although not acceptable in that socio-economic context, also keeping in mind that landlords have socio-political power in their territories. As the SSP gre out of Jhang, it became easier to use the victimization narrative by tying it to Shia-holding-power-everywhere rhetoric (notice how Deobandis in general use this ideology i.e. they state that Shias are like a cult, they spread across cities, they hold important positons, blah blah - a tactic used by most universalist and hardline gorups that target others).
I personally would not agree that SSP has a motive to target any non-Shia sects or groups. They recognize and perhaps feel good that there are other groups working on that agenda - not that they disagree with killing Ahmedis, etc but they don't have to do that themselves.
SSP has been always more mainstream than other hate groups and continues its aim of remaining a mainstream group. Although they got into a battle with the police in Karachi some months ago, they have avoided clashes with the state for sometime. Moreover, there is no evidence of them going after Barelvis previously. LeJ on the other hand has become even more underground and has become more than just anti-Shia targeting public officials across the country as well. Taregting shrines might not just be about targeting "centres of shirk" but targeting public places (we have to accept that generally public places have been targeted less than state buildings, offices and gatherings).
I'm sorry for stating "factual mistakes". It seems I didn't read it properly and now that I look at it, you were (more or less :p) accurate and just leaving out details. Perhaps, I'm weak on comprehending the meaning of well written lines.
Nice to see that you've got the Bible of Pakistan Militant groups. I've got a signed copy :)
My conclusion would be that SSP did its first major public show of power not long ago in front of Lal Masjid (just outside the HQs of its parent agency, the ISI) and it aims to remain mainstream. Although it might be involved in violence against Shias, and the Christian community as well, there is little evidence - both historical and current - that could suggest their involvement or even plan to target such a place. They gain nothing, they're not a clean-the-Barelvis organization and the LeJ must be the main suspect. The TTP is dissociating itself from these attacks but they've targeted the Shias in Parachinar and its sister organization, the LI, is very much anti-Shia and is yet another suspect.

Shahid said...

I might've been wrong. Ali Chishti's report in DT today sheds light on SSP being involved.\10\10\story_10-10-2010_pg7_17

TLW said...

Shahid bhai, it's ok, where you reference Ali Chishti's article, if you thought l-e-j when it's SSP. It proves Cafe Pyala's twitter speculation correct, but beyond that, who can care if it's one hate group or another? Personally, I've written of all these SSP's and LeJ's a long time ago. I consider them beyond the pale.

Thank you sir for linkng to the article where it says that the Karachi police are scared of taking on what, can now be described in the nineties as a Deobandi Vs Shia fight, but ominously, has taken the possibility of becoming a way larger Barelvi Vs Deobandi fight. Seeing such a hair's breadth distinction being drawn, makes me reconsider the nineties not as an UYltra-Sunni Vs Shia fight, but now as a Deobandi Vs Shia fight. The Barelvis were not up and active. But now if they are, it could get scary. On a psychological level, it can't reach a MQM Vs Pathan or Sindhi thing. In ethnic violence, it's more widespread, but with religious fanatics, they're more well trained and are willing to kill and be killed.

Basically, it looks like a Barelvi Vs Deobandi fight is about to begin.

Oh and a very important Q I always thought about that I am glad you inadvertently answered. Why do we tolerate Jamia Binoria? Your Ali K Chishti article and its scared policemen answered that question. I am personally wondering what its capacity for mayhem is, if action is taken against Jamia Binoria fast enough, secretly enough and swiftly enough? That's my first question.

I am also thinking how it's going to play out on the MQM Vs Haqiqi Vs Sunni Tehreek level.

According to this article the MQM-H has developed links with the SSP and L-e-J. I don't doubt it's true, but I have two more questions; 2) How independent is the Sunni Tehreek of the MQM or the ANP or the PPP, because it could soon be facing a combined assault from the LEJ-SSP-MQM-H combine? 3) How will the MQM, the ANP and the PPP react in concert as well as independently to the conflagration?

Shahid, thanks for everything bruv. Maybe you can open up your own blog?