Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Saudi Arabian/Iranian Role in Sectarian Killings in Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia looks askance at Pakistan’s commitment to pursue energy cooperation with Iran and is nudging the government to reconsider its decision. This was the essence of a message from the Saudi King conveyed by Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in his meetings with Pakistani leaders on Tuesday, Arab diplomatic sources based in Islamabad said. Riyadh is said to have offered an ‘alternative package’ to meet Islamabad’s growing energy needs in an effort to persuade it to abandon the Iran gas pipeline and electricity/oil import deals. The deputy foreign minister’s visit closely follows a trip by Saudi Culture and Information Minister Dr Abdul Aziz bin Mohiuddin Al-Khoja last week, which coincided with Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The exchanges took place against the backdrop of an intensifying cold war between Tehran and Riyadh over Syria with smaller versions of the proxy being played out in Bahrain, Yemen and other parts of the region. The meetings are also taking place at a time when diplomatic efforts for dealing with the Syrian crisis have picked momentum. Riyadh sees the situation in Syria as key to the future of the Middle East and has been spearheading efforts to isolate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The statements issued by the Presidency, Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Office all spoke about the cordial ties between the two countries and noted the discussions on “regional and international challenges”. Mr Aziz also had a one-to-one interaction with Prime Minister Gilani, besides the delegation meeting, during which, a prime ministerial aide said, a “special message” from the Saudi monarch was delivered. A senior Foreign Ministry official confirmed that Iran and the situation in Syria were on the agenda of the talks. “They have a position. We reiterated our desire for the issues relating to Muslim Ummah to be peacefully resolved through dialogue,” he added. President Zardari, in his meeting with Mr Aziz, also stressed the need for regional countries to find regional solutions to their problems.The Saudi delegation was informed that maintaining neighbourly relations with Iran did not mean endorsing its position or actions on other issues. Mr Aziz was quoted in a Foreign Office statement as having said: “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoyed commonality of views on regional and international challenges and the visit afforded him an opportunity to discuss these, and how to address them.” Saudi Arabia is said to have offered a loan and oil facility to bail Pakistan out of its financial and energy crises. A Pakistani official said the offer would be discussed at the Pak-Saudi joint ministerial meeting, which is being planned. Referring to the ministerial meeting, Prime Minister Gilani told the Saudi minister that it was important for “working out mechanism to give impetus to trade compatible with the exemplary relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. REFERENCE: S. Arabia offers help to tide over energy crisis Baqir Sajjad Syed

PML Nawaz & Sectarian Outfit

Punjabi Taliban: Here they came in contact with Taliban militants; both influenced each other and a new sectarian breed came into being in the form of the Punjabi Taliban, now led by Asmatullah Muavia and loyal to Hakimullah Mehsud. Initially based in South Waziristan, the Punjabi Taliban were ousted after the military operation in 2009. In reprisal, they carried out high-profile attacks such as the one on GHQ in Rawalpindi. Sources say that that particular incident was the turning point and led to a re-think by the establishment. Security officials — who wish to remain anonymous — say this was because the GHQ standoff was resolved not just by army commandos but mainly through negotiations by Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, chief of the SSP, who convinced those inside to surrender. Army officials dismiss these claims. They say military action broke the siege and that the so-called Punjabi Taliban remains their number one enemy. It may well be that both stories are true, as one security official points out. Ludhianvi’s intervention — while crucial — was definitely only limited to the GHQ attack. He appears to have little control over the Punjabi Taliban leadership, which continues to wreak all sorts of havoc across Pakistan. However, it’s also clear that Ahmed Ludhianvi now enjoys official protocol. The SSP and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, Sipah-i-Sahaba’s current title, are both supposedly proscribed, yet these organisations hold rallies in major cities with ease where arms are openly displayed. Today it’s clear that the SSP and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, an even more extreme sectarian outfit, are inter-linked. Maulana Ludhianvi admitted as much to the BBC when he said in an interview that Malik Ishaq, the LJ chief, was released on his guarantees and that the notorious militant now answers to him. Since Malik Ishaq’s release it’s become easier for the LJ leaders to move around, and they have since started expanding and setting up cells in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. These cells are made of locals and have been greatly strengthened, especially in Balochistan — where they operate independently of the LJ central command. There the traditionally secular Baloch — and particularly Brahui — are increasingly turning to the radical Islamist militancy espoused by SSP/LJ. Security officials — and Shia leaders — say this turn of events is complemented by the growth of sectarian madressahs there. Perhaps the largest Sipah-i-Sahaba seminary outside southern Punjab is in Mastung, in the heart of territory controlled by the Raisani tribe. Another major reason, according to Shia leaders, is the alleged support by intelligence agencies to groups of pro-government Baloch tribesmen. Most of these have dual identities — the second being outright sectarian and extremist. It is no surprise, then, that the largest of the groups is considered to be the de facto Lashkar-i-Jhangvi in Balochistan. All that is perhaps irrelevant for the intelligence agencies, whose main aim is the tried tactic of using religion to suppress nationalism. Led by a close relative of a senior politician from the province, some of LJ Balochistan’s more high-profile attacks include the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Habib Jalib Baloch and the attacks on the Hazara Shias pilgrims in Mastung. A senior member of the group accepts it has been involved in attacks to protect the Baloch community – it denies it’s carried out attacks on Shias. “We are only carrying out defensive actions against people who are supported by foreign intelligence services. The Baloch people are with Pakistan – it’s just that they are scared of the militants.” He adds that while their group isn’t anti-Shia — the community has elements that act as agents of Iran in Pakistan and they should refrain from this. REFERENCE: Sectarian militancy thriving in Balochistan By Syed Shoaib Hasan
Imran Khan and Sectarianism in Pakistan.

GILGIT: Thirty-four people kidnapped from Hunza on April 3 in the wake of violence and bloodshed in Gilgit and Chilas were released on Tuesday as a result of successful talks between kidnappers and cleric Aga Rahat ul Hussain, police said. Member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly Deedar Ali Shah said the 34 hostages had been released unconditionally. The kidnapped men — the district health officer, a civil judge, truck drivers, cleaners and labourers working in flour mills — had been taken to Nagar valley. On Tuesday, they were brought to Gilgit where they were received by the deputy speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, home secretary, finance secretary and the DIG. Police said Aga Rahat, accompanied by Sheikh Mirza Ali and a number of other religious scholars, went to Nagar valley after the kidnappers had said that they would hand over the hostages only to him. A team earlier constituted by the Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister had failed to persuade the kidnappers to free the hostages. The hostages were first taken to the Chief Minister’s House where they met the CM and later transferred to a hotel. They are expected to go to their homes on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a curfew imposed eight days ago remained in force on Tuesday, without any relaxation. Since the outbreak of violence, Gilgit has remained cut off from the rest of the country with no vehicle plying on the Karakoram Highway and PIA not operating its flights. When contacted, SP Diamer district Bashir Ahmed said road traffic would not resume without improvement in the security situation. He said about 27 trucks loaded with foodstuff had left for Gilgit, but they were not allowed to enter the city because all entry points were closed. People in Skardu, Ghizer, Astore, Ghanche and Hunza Nagar are facing a shortage of food and medicines. Tens of thousands people held a sit-in in Skardu and called for arrest of the killers of bus passengers in Bonar Das near Chilas. REFERENCE: Curfew continues in Gilgit, Kidnappers free 34 hostages Farooq Ahmed Khan

Former ISI Chiefs Exposing Sectarian Terrorists (ARY Dr. Shahid Masood)

The Shi’a Awakening: General Ziaul Haq, who ruled Pakistan with an iron hand from 5 July 1977 to 17 August 1988, believed that “a state that is construed as a legitimate Islamic actor can both ride the tiger of Islamism and harness its energies in the service of the state.” [10] Islamization under General Ziaul Haq affected four areas—judicial reform, the penal code, economic activity and educational policy. Two decisions that had a particularly significant, long-term impact on the rise of sectarianism were the imposition of zakah or zakat (a 2.5 percent annual contribution Muslims must make toward charity based on their net asset value) and the expansion and radicalization of traditional religious schools called madrasa. The state funded the madrasas through zakat. In 1984, 9.4 percent of zakat funds went to madrasas, and in 1996, long after Ziaul Haq was gone, the government was giving various madrasas 3.5 million dollars a year. [11] In 1982 the government had announced that madrasa diplomas would be considered equivalent to formal school certificates as long as the madrasas reformed their curricula according to state demands. As the state and the Islamists collaborated during the Ziaul Haq years, many madrasas changed their focus from traditional religious education to training an Islamic bureaucracy that could assume positions in the lower and middle echelons of the government, thus creating a social base for a future Islamic state. Islamist groups set up numerous madrasas with government zakat funding. The Jamaat-e-Islami, which had set up its first madrasa—the Ulema Academy at Lahore—in 1976, ran seventy-.five madrasas by 1990. The Barelvis set up a new network of madrasas called Ziaul-Quran (the Light of the Quran) in response to the government initiative, which was primarily benefiting politicized groups such as the Deobandi, Ahl-e Hadith and Jamaat-e-Islami. The Shi’a were not too keen on Ziaul Haq’s Islamization from the top, particularly when it strengthened Sunni Islamist groups. The Shi’a and Sunnis differ in their understanding of zakat. Unlike the Hanafi school of Sunnis, which accepts the government’s right to collect and distribute zakat, the Shi’a consider zakat to be an individual obligation. They may voluntarily entrust the collection and spending of zakat to the Shi’a clergy, but Shi’a jurisprudence gives the state no role in the matter. This communitarian and voluntary approach to zakat among the Shi’a is probably a reaction to centuries of domination by Sunni rulers over most of the Muslim world. When Ziaul Haq decreed that 2.5 percent of all bank savings would be forcibly deducted every year and deposited in the government’s zakat account, therefore, the Shi’a protested. An important Shi’a cleric, Mufti Jaafar Husain (1916-1983), had argued for a long time that if Pakistan was to have Islamic law, the Shi’a should be allowed to follow their own jurisprudence—known as Jaafari fiqh after the sixth Shi’a imam, Jaafar al-Sadiq. Husain formed the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-Fiqh-e-Jaafariya (TNFJ), the Movement for the Enforcement of Jaafariya Law, which was later shortened to Tehrik-e-Jaafariya. Soon after Ziaul Haq’s decree authorizing the forcible deduction of zakat, the TNFJ started agitating against the decision. From Ziaul Haq’s point of view, and that of other Sunni Islamists, the Shi’a demand was unjustified. Iran had just had an Islamic revolution the year before (in 1979) and had implemented the Shi’a interpretation of Islamic law. If the majority’s jurisprudence prevailed in Iran, Pakistan’s Sunni Islamists believed the majority should prevail in Pakistan as well, and they saw no reason to make special provisions for the Shi’a minority. The state had become not only more Islamized, but it was also now adopting a sectarian preference within the Islamic context. Ziaul Haq’s preference for an across-the-board enforcement of Sunni law in relation to zakat was challenged by large Shi’a demonstrations. On 5 July1980 the TNFK brought tens of thousands of Shi’a from all over the country and laid siege to the government headquarters in Islamabad. The government backed down and exempted the Shi’a from the compulsory deduction of zakat. Although this measure appeased the Shi’a, it did not please the Sunni Islamists. They saw it as a dilution of Ziaul Haq’s commitment to Islamizing the Pakistani state with their support. For his part, in an effort to limit any damage to his reputation among the Sunni Islamists, Ziaul Haq made a point of venerating Prophet Mohammed’s earliest successors, the first three caliphs whom the Shi’a consider usurpers of political power from their first imam, Ali. In articulating its ideology and position, the TNFJ avoided expressly sectarian arguments. It insisted that, like every other Muslim group in Pakistan, it considered the Quran and the Sunnah to be the fundamental sources of law. It sought only for the right of “all recognized schools of Islamic thought” to be governed by their own interpretation of the Quran and the Sunnah. The TNFJ also talked about the creation of a popular Islamic army. Both these ideas—the concept of a popular army, as opposed to the professional one that dominated Pakistan, and the support for multiple interpretations of Islamic law—were viewed as dangerous by the army-run Pakistani state and its Sunni Islamist allies. REFERENCE: "Weeding Out the Heretics": Sectarianism in Pakistan by Husain Haqqani Published on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 Current Trends in Islamist Ideology vol. 4

Sethi: Sectarianism & Taliban in Punjab

The General and Jihad: Pakistan Under Musharraf

The Emergence of Sunni Militancy: Ziaul Haq’s policies of Islamization had strengthened Sunni Islamist institutions, especially the madrasas, and given influence to Islamist political parties disproportionate to their electoral strength. Even before their Iranian-inspired political awakening, Pakistan’s Shi’a had been wary of the Islamist political formations and had tended to support secular political parties, notably the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Ziaul Haq had deposed Bhutto and executed him. The PPP and the pro-democracy movement it led were seen by Ziaul Haq as major challenges to his authority. It suited Ziaul Haq, therefore, to advertise himself as the defender of Sunni Islam and to identify the pro-democracy movement with Shiism for the purpose of mobilizing Sunni Islamists on his behalf. And it was not difficult to spread fear among Sunni Islamists about the Shi’a minority’s possible rise to power. The Shi’a were an influential minority, prominent in the arts and literature. Several leading Pakistani politicians were Shi’a, and Shi’a support for the pro-democracy movement meant that Sunni Islamists would never have as much influence under a democratic government as they wielded under Ziaul Haq’s Islamizing regime. More significantly, the number of Shi’a in Pakistan was rising. In addition to making gains through effective proselytizing and natural growth, Shi’a ranks were swelling through conversions of convenience. Well-to-do secular Sunnis did not think much of declaring themselves Shi’a to enable their daughters to benefit from a larger share of their inheritance. While Islam’s laws of inheritance are defined in the Quran, the Shi’a interpret them more favorably for women. The compulsory deduction of zakat from bank accounts, so essential to generating funds for Sunni Islamist madrasas, also became a reason for defections from Sunni ranks. Many non-practicing Muslims decided to become Shi’a, not necessarily to observe the sect’s faith or practices, but to avoid having zakat deducted from their savings each year. These circumstances, which appeared to threaten Sunni dominance and identity, provided an environment conducive to Islamist political activism and militancy. A Deobandi cleric, Maulana Saleemullah Khan, founded Sawad-e Azam Ahl-e Sunnat (Greater Unity of the Sunnis) in 1980, demanding that Pakistan be declared a Sunni state and that the Shi’a be declared non-Muslims. [12] Soon after, sectarian riots erupted in the port city of Karachi, and Sawad-e Azam followers attacked Shi’a neighborhoods and religious gatherings. The Sawad-e-Azam was later instrumental in creating the strongest Sunni sectarian militia—the Anjuman-e Sipah-e Sahaba (ASS), or Society of the Army of the Prophet’s Companions. Both organizations were run by Deobandi clerics who had little or no knowledge of English, and once the militant leaders learned the connotation of their English language abbreviation, they changed the name of their organization to Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), the Pakistan Army of the Prophet’s Companions.

The Sipah-e Sahaba was formally established by Haq Nawaz Jhangvi (1952-90) in 1985 in Pakistan’s central Punjab province. According to the organization’s literature, it is part of the global struggle between Western materialism and the true faith:

The greatest evil of our age is atheism, irreligion and the revolt against the true faith. Although those (in the west) who revolted against religion at the beginning of the twentieth century are now returning to religion themselves, the poison of their ideologies has seeped into our society’s thinking. We need to generate the antidote… Just as the Muslim Ummah got rid of the yoke of British and French colonialism, we need a major effort to protect ourselves from the demon of irreligion and secularity and immerse ourselves into the beauty of Islam and Quranic injunctions. [13]

Sipah-e Sahaba opposed the notion of freedom of religious observance if it meant that the Shi’a would be free to criticize the early caliphs and companions of the Prophet. “True faith is only that following the way of the Prophet’s companions; anything else is heresy,” declared Ziaur Rehman Faruqui, who took over as SSP chief after Jhangvi’s assassination in 1990. The emphasis on following the Prophet’s early companions is simply a subtle way of condemning the Shi’a as heretics. The SSP’s goals are to combat the Shi’a at every level of society, to have them declared a non-Muslim minority like the Ahmadis, and to proscribe their processions of self-flagellation during the month of Muharram. Sipah-e Sahaba also wants to impose its own version of Sunni Islam on the state and society. Its ideal polity is the Khilafat-i-Rashida, the rightly guided Caliphate that succeeded Prophet Mohammed and lasted for only thirty-one years. SSP justifies its virulent anti-Shiism as crucial to protecting Islam from Persian influence and saving the Muslim world from Khomeini’s pernicious, heretical ideology. The SSP gained influence in the rural parts of Pakistan’s central Punjab province, partly by criticizing the influence of Shi’a landowners. They accused the Shi’a of having maintained their large land holdings through close ties with the British, which made them representative of secular culture. It did not occur to SSP’s militant Sunni followers that focusing on the large Shi’a estates might inadvertently endorse Shi’a inheritance laws, which prevented the kind of fragmentation of property that inevitably resulted from Sunni laws of inheritance. SSP also attacked traditional, custom-based, mystical Sufi Islam that often allowed Sunnis and Shi’a in rural Pakistan to merge in their common reverence for particular saints and shrines. Seeking to impose a standardized, ritual-free, text-based Islam, SSP took pride in articulating the anti-Shi’a puritanism that other Islamist organizations shared but were unable to voice for the sake of political correctness. SSP maintained close ties with the leading Deobandi organization, Jamiat-e Ulema-e Islam (JUI), and all its leaders were graduates of Deobandi madrasas. Almost all Sunni Islamist organizations quietly supported SSP’s anti-Shi’a rhetoric and campaigns. The Ziaul Haq regime saw the SSP as a check on the rise of Shi’a influence and gave it a free hand. Soon covert links had been established between SSP and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which managed official Pakistani support of jihadi operations in Afghanistan and Indian-controlled Kashmir. SSP cadres attended Afghan mujahidin training camps and returned to kill Shi’a leaders within Pakistan. The rise of the Taliban in the 1990s further deepened the ties among Pakistan’s various jihadi groups (see Current Trends, vol. 1), Deobandi madrasas and Sunni sectarian organizations like Sipah-e Sahaba. SSP’s lethal attacks on Shi’a ulema and professionals generated a violent Shi’a backlash, however. The Shi’a Sipah-e Mohammed Pakistan (SMP)—Army of Mohammed in Pakistan—surfaced in 1991, almost a year after the assassination of SSP founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. Sipah-e Mohammed claimed to have more global aims than just protecting Pakistan’s Shi’a. Its founder, Ghulam Raza Naqvi, declared that he wanted to set up a Quds-force of both Sunnis and Shi’a to liberate Palestine. [14] But in practice SMP did little more than retaliate for SSP’s assaults on Shi’a by killing SSP leaders and cadres, and occasionally by mounting attacks on Deobandi mosques in reprisal for attacks on Shi’a mosques. The violence between Shi’a and Sunni extremist groups escalated further once Ziaul Haq’s military regime came to an end and civilian rule was restored in Pakistan. Worried about the sectarian violence, the civilian political leaders attempted to co-opt the SSP into the political system. The group’s candidates won some seats in the Punjab Assembly, and they were offered positions in the government in exchange for renouncing violence. One segment of the SSP found this bargain unacceptable, however, and responded by creating the secretive and uncompromisingly violent Lashkar-e Jhangvi (JI)—Jhangvi’s Army. This group, founded by Riaz Basra in 1994, consisted mainly of Afghan jihad veterans and worked closely with the Taliban and al-Qaeda. It is important to note that since the collapse of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Baluchistan province has become a major center of anti-Shi’a militants. Their main targets have been the anti-Taliban Shi’a Hazara community. [15] Sectarian conflict in Pakistan has not remained confined to the sphere of Sunni-Shi’a rivalry. Violence has erupted among competing Sunni organizations as well. Once the floodgates of discussion over who is or is not a Muslim are opened, any number of claims for excluding heretics from the mainstream can emerge. Although sectarian violence in Pakistan began with demands to declare Ahmadis and Shi’a non-Muslims, the rising tide of Sunni extremism has led the various Sunni organizations to vie with one another for the right to decide who can legitimately be considered a true Sunni Muslim. As Deobandi and Wahhabi groups expanded through state patronage and organized militias, the traditionalist Barelvis found themselves marginalized. By the middle of the 1990s, a militant organization called the Sunni Tehreek (Sunni Movement) was founded in Karachi by Saleem Qadri. This movement sought to roll back the rising tide of Wahhabi and Deobandi influences and to restore the South Asian tradition of devotional and festive observance of Islam. This effort did not sit well with the Deobandi and Wahhabi groups, of course, who saw the revival of traditionalism as a setback to their successful imposition of fundamentalism in the preceding two and a half decades. On 11 April 2006 a massive bomb blast in Karachi on the occasion of Eid Milad-un Nabi (celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday), which the Deobandis and Wahhabis view as sinful, killed about fifty people and injured many more. Most of the casualties belonged to the Barelvi sub-sect of Sunni Islam, and many were affiliated with the Sunni Tehreek. REFERENCE: "Weeding Out the Heretics": Sectarianism in Pakistan by Husain Haqqani Published on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 Current Trends in Islamist Ideology vol. 4

Punjab Govt & Rana Sanaullah Lie Exposed on Malik Ishaq received monthly stipend (GEO TV)

KARACHI: A US official in a cable sent to the State Department stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.” The cable sent in November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, was based on information from discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during his trips to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur. Quoting local interlocutors, Hunt attempts to explain how the “sophisticated jihadi recruitment network” operated in a region dominated by the Barelvi sect, which, according to the cable, made south Punjab “traditionally hostile” to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith schools of thought. Hunt refers to a “network of Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith mosques and madrassahs” being strengthened through an influx of “charity” which originally reached organisations “such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Al-Khidmat foundation”. Portions of these funds would then be given away to clerics “in order to expand these sects’ presence” in a relatively inhospitable yet “potentially fruitful recruiting ground”.

Outlining the process of recruitment for militancy, the cable describes how “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties” were generally being exploited for recruitment purposes. Families first approached by “ostensibly ‘charitable’” organisations would later be introduced to a “local Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith maulana” who would offer to educate the children at his madrassah and “find them employment in the service of Islam”. “Martyrdom” was also “often discussed”, with a final cash payment to the parents. “Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rs 500,000 (approximately USD 6,500) per son,” the cable states. Children recruited would be given age-specific indoctrination and would eventually be trained according to the madrassah teachers’ assessment of their inclination “to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture” versus their value as promoters of Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith sects or recruiters, the cable states. Recruits “chosen for jihad” would then be taken to “more sophisticated indoctrination camps”. “Locals identified three centres reportedly used for this purpose”. Two of the centres were stated to be in the Bahawalpur district, whereas one was reported as situated “on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city”. These centres “were primarily used for indoctrination”, after which “youths were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas”.

The cable goes on to quote local officials criticising the PML-N-led provincial and the PPP-led federal governments for their “failure to act” against “extremist madrassas, or known prominent leaders such as Jaish-i-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar”. The Bahawalpur district nazim at the time told Hunt that despite repeatedly highlighting the threat posed by extremist groups and indoctrination centres to the provincial and federal governments, he had received “no support” in dealing with the issue unless he was ready to change his political loyalties. The nazim, who at the time was with the PML-Q, “blamed politics, stating that unless he was willing to switch parties…neither the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz provincial nor the Pakistan People’s Party federal governments would take his requests seriously”. REFERENCE: Saudi Arabia, UAE financing extremism in south Punjab By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui 22nd May, 2011

PML (Nawaz) & Sectarian Killings - 3 (News One/TV One)

1. (S/NF) Summary: During recent trips to southern Punjab, Principal Officer was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions. The network reportedly exploited worsening poverty in these areas of the province to recruit children into the divisions’ growing Deobandi and Ahl-eHadith madrassa network from which they were indoctrinated into jihadi philosophy, deployed to regional training/indoctrination centers, and ultimately sent to terrorist training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Locals believed that charitable activities being carried out by Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith organizations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Al-Khidmat Foundation, and Jaish-e-Mohammad were further strengthening reliance on extremist groups and minimizing the importance of traditionally moderate Sufi religious leaders in these communities. Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from “”missionary”" and “”Islamic charitable”" organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments. Locals repeatedly requested USG support for socio-economic development and the promotion of moderate religious leaders in the region as a direct counter to the growing extremist threat. End Summary.

2. (S/NF) During a recent visit to the southern Punjabi cities of Multan and Bahawalpur, Principal Officer’s discussions with religious, political, and civil society leaders were dominated by discussions of the perceived growing extremist threat in Seraiki and Baloch areas in southern and western Punjab. Interlocutors repeatedly stressed that recruitment activities by extremist religious organizations, particularly among young men between the ages of 8 and 15, had increased dramatically over the last year. Locals blamed the trend on a strengthening network of Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and madrassas, which they claimed had grown exponentially since late 2005. Such growth was repeatedly attributed to an influx of “”Islamic charity”" that originally reached Pakistani pseudo-religious organizations, such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Al-Khidmat foundation, as relief for earthquake victims in Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province. Locals believe that a portion of these funds was siphoned to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in southern and western Punjab in order to expand these sects’ presence in a traditionally hostile, but potentially fruitful, recruiting ground. The initial success of establishing madrassas and mosques in these areas led to subsequent annual “”donations”" to these same clerics, originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The value of such donations was uncertain, although most interlocutors believed that it was in the region of $100 million annually.

3. (S/NF) According to local interlocutors, current recruitment activities generally exploit families with multiple children, particularly those facing severe financial difficulties in light of inflation, poor crop yields, and growing unemployment in both urban and rural areas in the southern and western Punjab. Oftentimes, these families are identified and initially approached/assisted by ostensibly “”charitable”" organizations including Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a front for designated foreign terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyaba), the Al-Khidmat Foundation (linked to religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami), or Jaish-e-Mohammad (a charitable front for the designated foreign terrorist organization of the same name).

4. (S/NF) The local Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith maulana will generally be introduced to the family through these organizations. He will work to convince the parents that their poverty is a direct result of their family’s deviation from “”the true path of Islam”" through “”idolatrous”" worship at local Sufi shrines and/or with local Sufi Peers. The maulana suggests that the quickest way to return to “”favor”" would be to devote the lives of one or two of their sons to Islam. The maulana will offer to educate these children at his madrassa and to find them employment in the service of Islam. The concept of “”martyrdom”" is often discussed and the family is promised that if their sons are “”martyred”" both the sons and the family will attain “”salvation”" and the family will obtain God’s favor in this life, as well. An immediate cash payment is finally made to the parents to compensate the family for its “”sacrifice”" to Islam. Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rps. 500,000 (approximately USD 6500) per son. A small number of Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in Dera Ghazi Khan district are reportedly recruiting daughters as well.

5. (S/NF) The path following recruitment depends upon the age of the child involved. Younger children (between 8 and 12) seem to be favored. These children are sent to a comparatively small, extremist Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith madrassa in southern or western Punjab generally several hours from their family home. Locals were uncertain as to the exact number of madrassas used for this initial indoctrination purpose, although they believed that with the recent expansion, they could number up to 200. These madrassas are generally in isolated areas and are kept small enough (under 100 students) so as not to draw significant attention. At these madrassas, children are denied contact with the outside world and taught sectarian extremism, hatred for non-Muslims, and anti-Western/anti-Pakistan government philosophy. Contact between students and families is forbidden, although the recruiting maulana periodically visits the families with reports full of praise for their sons’ progress. “”Graduates”" from these madrassas are either (1) employed as Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith clerics or madrassa teachers or (2) sent on to local indoctrination camps for jihad. Teachers at the madrassa appear to make the decision based on their read of the child’s willingness to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture versus his utility as an effective proponent of Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith ideology/recruiter.

6. (S/NF) Children recruited at an older age and “”graduates”" chosen for jihad proceed to more sophisticated indoctrination camps focused on the need for violence and terrorism against the Pakistan government and the West. Locals identified three centers reportedly used for this purpose. The most prominent of these is a large complex that ostensibly has been built at Khitarjee (sp?). Locals placed this site in Bahawalpur District on the Sutlej River north of the village of Ahmedpur East at the border of the districts of Multan, Bahawalpur, and Lodhran. The second complex is a newly built “”madrassa”" on the outskirts of Bahawalpur city headed by a devotee of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar identified only as Maulana Al-Hajii (NFI). The third complex is an Ahl-e-Hadith site on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city about which very limited information was available. Locals asserted that these sites were primarily used for indoctrination and very limited military/terrorist tactic training. They claimed that following several months of indoctrination at these centers youth were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas. Many worried that these youth would eventually return to try and impose their extremist version of Islam in the southern and western Punjab and/or to carry out operations in these areas.

7. (S/NF) Interlocutors repeatedly chastised the government for its failure to act decisively against indoctrination centers, extremist madrassas, or known prominent leaders such as Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar. One leading Sufi scholar and a Member of the Provincial Assembly informed Principal Officer that he had personally provided large amounts of information on the location of these centers, madrassas, and personalities to provincial and national leaders, as well as the local police. He was repeatedly told that “”plans”" to deal with the threat were being “”evolved”" but that direct confrontation was considered “”too dangerous.”" The Bahawalpur District Nazim told Principal Officer that he had repeatedly highlighted the growing threat to the provincial and federal governments but had received no support in dealing with it. He blamed politics, stating that unless he was willing to switch parties — he is currently with the Pakistan Muslim League — neither the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz provincial nor the Pakistan Peoples Party federal governments would take his requests seriously. The brother of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, and a noted Brailvi/Sufi scholar in his own right, Allama Qasmi blamed government intransigence on a culture that rewarded political deals with religious extremists. He stressed that even if political will could be found, the bureaucracy in the Religious Affairs, Education, and Defense Ministries remained dominated by Zia-ul-Haq appointees who favored the Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith religious philosophies. This bureaucracy, Qasmi claimed, had repeatedly blocked his brother’s efforts to push policy in a different direction.

8. (S/NF) Interlocutors repeatedly requested USG assistance for the southern and western Punjab, believing that an influx of western funds could counter the influence of Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith clerics. Principal Officer was repeatedly reminded that these religious philosophies were alien to the southern and western Punjab — which is the spiritual heartland of South Asia’s Sufi communities. Their increasing prominence was directly attributed to poverty and external funding. Locals believed that socio-economic development programs, particularly in education, agriculture, and employment generation, would have a direct, long-term impact in minimizing receptivity to extremist movements. Similarly, they pressed for immediate relief efforts — particularly food distribution and income support — to address communities’ immediate needs. Several interlocutors also encouraged direct USG support to Brailvi/Sufi religious institutions, arguing that these represented the logical antithesis to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith philosophy and that if adequately funded, they could stem the tide of converts away from their moderate beliefs.


9. (S/NF) A jihadi recruiting network relying on Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith religious, charitable, and educational institutions is increasing its work in impoverished districts of southern and western Punjab. Local economic conditions coupled with foreign financing appear to be transforming a traditionally moderate area of the country into a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist organizations. The provincial and federal governments, while fully aware of the problem, appear to fear direct confrontation with these extremist groups. Local governments lack the resources and federal/provincial support to deal with these organizations on their own. The moderate Brailvi/Sufi community is internally divided into followers of competing spiritual leaders and lacks the financial resources to act as an effective counterweight to well-funded and well-organized extremists.

10. (S/NF) Post believes that this growing recruitment network poses a direct threat to USG counter-terrorism and counter-extremism efforts in Pakistan. Intervention at this stage in the southern and western Punjab could still be useful to counter the prevailing trends favoring extremist organizations. USAID development resources in agriculture, economic growth, education, and infrastructure development are useful and necessary and will address some of the immediate needs. In post’s view short-term, quick impact programs are required which focus on: (1) immediate relief in the form of food aid and microcredit, (2) cash for work and community-based, quick-impact infrastructure development programs focusing on irrigation systems, schools, and other critical infrastructure, and (3) strategic communication programs designed to educate on the dangers of the terrorist recruiting networks and to support counter-terrorist, counter-extremist messages. HUNT REFERENCE: 2008: Extremist recruitment on the rise in south Punjab madrassahs DAWN.COM | 22nd May, 2011

Wiki Leaks on Saudi Arabian & UAE funding to Sectarian Groups in Pakistan

1. (S) Summary: A well-placed Deobandi religious leader told Principal Officer in a meeting on March 18 that extremist group Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) was increasing its activities in the central Punjab city of Faisalabad, the province’s second largest, in collaboration with elements of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and a splinter group from the banned terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). The cleric reported that SSP had recently launched a pamphlet campaign across the city in which it called for people to take steps to enforce Islamic law including: (1) cease business and social activities at the five daily calls to prayer, (2) remove all sources of “”vulgarity”" such as televisions, cd players, and radios from their homes, (3) seek dispute resolution through local imams rather than the courts, (4) take Friday rather than Sunday as the weekly holiday, and (4) strictly enforce purdah for female family members. The pamphlet states that it comes from SSP with support from the TTP and specifically praises “”the enforcement of Sharia in Swat”" and recommends it as a model for Faisalabad. According the religious scholar, a number of girls’ educational institutions in Faisalabad have received letters stating that if they fail to observe purdah, they could be attacked by suicide bombers. The cleric surmised that SSP activities would increase in Faisalabad on the return of its leader Maulana Ludhianvi from a Libyan-government sponsored trip to that country. End Summary.

2. (S) Leading Faisalabad-based Deobandi scholar and IVLP alumnus Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX called on the Principal Officer on March 18 to discuss his concerns regarding what he termed as “”growing extremist activity”" in Punjab’s second-largest city Faisalabad. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that in the last month he has observed a dramatic increase in propaganda activities from Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). He believed that this increase coincided with a number of visits to Faisalabad from activists both of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and a splinter group from the southern Punjab-based Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM). XXXXXXXXXXXX believed that the activists were involved in recruiting for TTP militant operations in the FATA and NWFP through madrassas in southern Punjab and hoped to replicate that success in Faisalabad. XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that SSP leaders had long-standing ties with JeM, as both were Deobandi organizations that had collaborated in the past in anti-Shia and anti-India activities.

3. (S) XXXXXXXXXXXX shared with Principal Officer an Urdu-language sticker that he claimed he had confiscated from several of his madrassa students in Faisalabad. The sticker, which he stated was also being printed and distributed as a pamphlet, praised the implementation of Sharia law in Swat and exhorted Muslims to pursue the same sort of Sharia law in Faisalabad. It then recounted five steps that every Faisalabad based Muslim should take to begin the process of implementation in the district. The steps were: : (1) cease business and social activities at the five daily calls to prayer, (2) remove all sources of “”vulgarity”" such as televisions, cd players, and radios from their homes, (3) seek dispute resolution through local imams rather than the courts, (4) take Friday rather than Sunday as the weekly holiday, and (4) strictly enforce purdah for female family members.

4. (S) Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX told Principal Officer that he had initially dismissed the pamphlet campaign, but became increasingly concerned after learning of specific threats received by several girls’ schools (NFI) in Faisalabad. He claimed that these schools had received letters sent from SSP, referencing the situation in Swat, and warning that if these schools did not begin having their students observe complete purdah, the schools could be the target of violence, including suicide bombing. Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX did not produce a copy of the threat letter. Principal Officer inquired whether any violence had yet occurred in Faisalabad in connection with the SSP campaign. Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX responded that to his knowledge it had not, but he believed that it could occur in short order if police did not check SSP activities.

5. (S) Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that in addition to its pamphlet campaign, SSP had organized a number of traditional religious conferences in Faisalabad during the Islamic month of Rabwa (currently ongoing). Traditionally such conferences are organized in this month of the Prophet’s birth to discuss the model life that the Prophet lead and to exhort Muslims to follow his example. According to Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX, this year during the SSP conferences, the organizers have exhorted attendees to follow the Prophet’s example and press for the adoption of complete shariah law in Faisalabad, using Swat as a model. These exhortations specifically call for action against vulgarity and women not observing purdah. In one case, Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that he learned that leaders of the recently banned al-Rashid Trust were coming to address a March 8 SSP conference. He stated that he had informed the District Police Officer, who cancelled the event.

6. (S) Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX shared that he had received reliable information that SSP leader Maulana Ludhianvi was on a fundraising trip to Tripoli sponsored by the Libyan government. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that Ludhianvi had made contact with Libyan officials in the guise of working against Iran and Shia agents in Pakistan. (Note: SSP was originally founded as a violent anti-Shia organization and has, in the past, received extensive foreign funding from a variety of Sunni states, including Saudi Arabia. End Note). According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, Ludhianvi was scheduled to return to Pakistan in “”a few days”" and was bringing with him a “”donation”" from the Libyan government valued at nearly 25 million Pakistani rupees (approximately $312,000) that XXXXXXXXXXXX was certain would be used to increase further SSP activities.

7. (S) Comment: Maulana XXXXXXXXXXXX is a long-standing contact of Consulate Lahore, who visited the United States in XXXXXXXXXXXX as part of our International Visitor Leadership Program. XXXXXXXXXXXX repeatedly credits his trip to the United States and particularly his discussions with Muslim leaders there for changing his previously anti-Western views. XXXXXXXXXXXX has numerous ties within the broader Deobandi community and is well-positioned to obtain information on activities of Deobandi-linked terrorist/extremist groups such as SSP and JeM. He has not/not previously shared such extensive information with post about these groups’ activities in Faisalabad. Post believes he has done so on this occasion largely out of concern for his and other moderate Deobandi leaders’ safety if these groups expand activities in Faislabad. The significant decline in the Pakistani textile industry and accompanying large-scale lay-offs in Faisalabad –the center of that industry in Punjab — provides groups like SSP with a ready pool of unemployed recruits, who are susceptible to these groups’ rhetoric about an Islamic utopia based on Sharia and prepared to engage in violence to bring it about. End Comment. HUNT “ REFERENCE: 2009: Was Qaddafi funding Sipahe Sahaba? 26th May, 2011

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