(Updated till May
Incidents and Statements involving Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan:
2015 , 2014,
Earlier termed Anjuman
Sipah-e-Sahaba, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) is a Sunni sectarian
outfit that has been alleged to be involved in terrorist violence, primarily
targeted against the minority Shia community in Pakistan. The outfit
has also operated as a political party having contested elections and
an SSP leader was a minister in the Coalition Government in Punjab in
1993. The SSP is one of the five outfits that have been proscribed by
President Pervez Musharraf on January 12, 2002. The outfit is reported
to have been renamed as Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan after the proscription.
Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, Maulana Zia-ur-Rehman Farooqi, Maulana Eesar-ul-Haq
Qasmi and Maulana Azam Tariq established the SSP, initially known as
the Anjuman Sipah-e-Sahaba in September 1985 in an environment of increasing
sectarian hostility in Pakistani Punjab. The origin of this outfit lie
in the feudal set-up of Pakistani Punjab and politico-religious developments
in the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties. Political and economic power
in Pakistani Punjab was a privilege of large landowners, mostly Shias,
a minority as compared to the Sunni sect. Urban Punjab in contrast,
was a non-feudalised middle-class society and largely from the Sunni
sect. The SSP is also alleged to have been set up at the behest of the
then Zia-ul-Haq regime as part of the efforts to build an Islamist counter
to pro-democracy forces ranged against the military regime of the Eighties.
socio-economic rationale for SSP's origin is explained largely from
the economic profile of Jhang, the home base of SSP. Located in a region
that divides Central from Southern Pakistani Punjab, Jhang still has
a significantly high proportion of large land holdings, leaving feudalism
relatively undisturbed. Most large landlords, who are Shias, dominate
both society and politics in the region. But, over the years, the area
has developed as an important mandi (market town) gradually increasing
the power of traders, shopkeepers and transport operators in the region.
Seeking a political voice and role, this class, largely from the Sunni
community, has been challenging the traditional feudal hold. The most
serious political challenge to the control of feudal interests has been
articulated in the form of violent sectarianism, with the formation
of the SSP. This has meant, however, that the contest for access to
resources and status and the competition for domination over the state
apparatus are not framed in terms of class divisions, or modernisation
imperatives, but confrontationist sectarian identities.
in most areas affected by violence, a major contradiction has risen.
While a sizeable proportion of traders and shopkeepers continue to fund
the SSP in Jhang, most do not believe in the violence associated with
the party, rather it is now a matter of buying security. Nevertheless,
there is a decline in their support for the SSP over recent years as
a result of the economic consequences of sectarian strife.
SSP wants Pakistan to be declared a Sunni state. Maulana Zia-ul-Qasmi,
a leading SSP leader said in an interview in January 1998, "the government
gives too much importance to the Shias. They are everywhere, on television,
radio, in newspapers and in senior positions. This causes heartburn."
While fervently believing in hostility towards the Shias, the SSP also
aims at restoring the Khilafat system. It also aims to protect the Sunnis
and their Shariat (law). The SSP has declared that Shiites are non-Muslims.
The SSP came into existence as a reaction to the Iranian Revolution
and increasing Shia militancy in Pakistan. There is another school of
thought which says that the SSP phenomenon began from Jhang as a reaction
to the socio-economic repression of the masses by Shia feudal structure
in the area.
his reaction to the warning given to the party by President Pervez Musharraf
on August 14, 2001, SSP leader Maulana Mujibur Rehman Inqilabi said
that it had nothing to do with terrorism and considered it a danger
to the security of the country and people, believing in the negotiated
resolution of all issues. He also said that the resolution of the Shia-Sunni
issue did not lie in bans, bloodshed, hanging or cruel punishments but
in negotiations. Maulana Inqilabi also pointed out that Pervez Musharraf
must constitute a tribunal under his supervision comprising the Interior
Minister, all provincial Home Secretaries, Chief Justices of the Supreme
and High Courts, leading Ulema (religious scholars) and journalists
to hear proposals from the Tehreek-e-Jaferia-Pakistan (TJP)
and the SSP for the resolution of their differences. He said the tribunal
should formulate a code of ethics in the light of the proposals by both
the parties, give it a legal cover and then get it followed by all the
on January 16, 2001, the SSP and its Shia rival organisation, the Tehreek-e-Jaferia
Pakistan (TJP) reportedly assured the Punjab provincial
Government of co-operation in the elimination of terrorism from the
country. Similarly, on February 3, 2001, the Punjab leadership of the
SSP and another Shia outfit, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP)
announced its willingness to overcome differences and to withdraw cases
filed against each other.
SSP also actively opposes the US-Pakistan alliance formed in the aftermath
of the September 11 terrorist attacks on US targets. The alliance was
targeted against the erstwhile Taliban regime in Afghanistan, a major
supporter of Sunni extremists and terrorist outfits in Pakistan. The
outfit joined the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), Jamaat-e-Ulema-e Pakistan (JUP),
Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, and Fazlur Rahman faction of JuI and Jamaat-e-Ahle
Hadith in forming the Afghan Jehad Council and claiming the US action
was not a war against Taliban but against Islam, and therefore, it was
essential for the Muslims to declare Jehad against the US and its allies.
Azam Tariq, SSP chief and a Member of the National Assembly, was assassinated
along with four other persons by three unidentified gunmen in Islamabad
on October 6, 2003. He had won the October 2002 National Assembly elections
from Jhang as an independent candidate. Azam Tariq, educated in the
Madrassas (seminaries) in Faisalabad and Karachi, was a frequent
visitor to Afghanistan during the Taliban militia's rule. Although the
Maulana had claimed that the SSP had no links with any terrorist groups,
security agencies believe that the SSP and LeJ are closely linked. In
October 2000, the Maulana while speaking at an international Difah-e-Sahaba
conference in Karachi said that the SSP aims to transform 28 large Pakistani
cities into 'model Islamic cities' where television, cinema and music
would be banned. Azam Tariq was also a supporter the terrorist violence
in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). When Maulana Masood
Azhar formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in the aftermath of his release
in Kandahar, Afghanistan, following the hijacking of an Indian aircraft
in December 1999, Azam Tariq reportedly 'pledged' to send 500,000 Jehadis
to J&K to fight Indian security forces. According to an October 2003
report in the Daily Times, 65 cases were registered against him,
including 28 cases relating to terrorist acts.
Ali Sher Ghazni is the Patron-in-Chief of the outfit. Maulana Zia-ul-Qasmi
serves as the Chairman, Supreme Council. Other important SSP leaders
are Qazi Mohammed Ahmed Rashidi, Mohammed Yousuf Mujahid, Tariq Madni,
Muhammad Tayyab Qasim and Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi.
Haq Nawaz Jhangvi, one of the founder members of SSP was assassinated
on February 23, 1990, reportedly by Shia terrorists. He was considered
to have been the most prominent SSP leader, belonged to the Deobandi
sect and was very popular in Jhang for his speeches. Maulana Jhangvi
aimed to make Pakistan a Sunni state. He contested and lost the election
for a National Assembly seat in 1990. Haq Nawaz's avowed mission was
to declare Shias as Kafir (infidel) and in this pursuit, he publicly
instructed his followers to destroy peace in Pakistan, if it became
necessary to get Shias declared as Kafir.
Balli, kin of a former member of the National Assembly from Jhang, Amanullah
Khan Sial, was convicted to lifetime imprisonment for the assassination
of Maulana Jhangvi. After the assassination, Maulana Zia-ur Rehman Farooqi
took over the leadership of the outfit. He was later killed in a bomb
explosion in the Lahore Sessions Court on January 19, 1997. Maulana
Azam Tariq succeeded Maulana Zia-ur Rehman Farooqi.
SSP is reported to have approximately 3,000 - 6,000 trained activists
who indulge in various kinds of violent sectarian activities, which
are primarily directed against the Shias. Most SSP cadres hail from
extremists have primarily operated in two ways: The first involves targeted
killings of prominent opponent organisation activists. In the second,
terrorists fire on worshippers in mosques operated by opposing sects.
1992, the SSP was reported to have gained access to sophisticated arms
as also the ability to use these weapons even against law enforcement
agencies. In June 1992, its activists used a rocket launcher in an attack
which killed five police personnel. In Punjab, 1994 was one of the worst
years in terms of sectarian violence when such incidents claimed 73
lives and more than 300 people were injured. Many of these killings
were the result of indiscriminate firing on people saying their prayers.
The SSP along with several other Sunni and Shia organisations were suspected
to have participated in this violence.
1996, the outfit joined peace efforts initiated by the Milli Yakjeheti
Council* though violence continued unabated. The second half of the
year was notable for the fact that while the number of incidents decreased,
average casualties in these incidents increased. In one such instance
where SSP was suspected as the perpetrator, ten persons were killed
in indiscriminate firing at a mourning procession in Mailsi in Vehari
district in July 1996.
reports have indicated that the SSP and other Sunni outfits hold Iran
as the sponsor of Shia extremist outfits in Pakistan. Hence when any
major Sunni leader is assassinated, Iranians in Pakistan are targeted
for retribution. For instance, the Iranian Counsel General in Lahore,
Sadeq Ganji, was killed in December 1990 in what was reported to be
a retribution for the February 1990 killing of the SSP co-founder Maulana
Haq Nawaz Jhangvi. Similarly, in January 1997, the Iranian Cultural
Centre in Lahore was attacked and set on fire, while in Multan seven
persons were killed including the Iranian diplomat Muhammad Ali Rahimi.
Earlier, in the month, a bomb blast at the Sessions Court in Lahore
left 30 persons dead, including the then SSP chief Zia-ur-Rehman Farooqi
along with 22 policemen and a journalist. News reports said that the
retribution continued in September 1997 when five personnel of the Iranian
armed forces who were in Pakistan for training were killed by suspected
with other sectarian outfits in Pakistan, the SSP has chosen to lie
low after the military coup of November 1999. This lends credence to
the hypothesis that SSP like other sectarian and ethnic groups, indulge
in violence only when a passive state guarantees an environment of neutrality
and even tacit support to this violence. With a hard-line stance being
taken by the military regime against internal violence within Pakistan,
these organisations have chosen to keep a low profile.
part of its opposition to the US-Pakistan alliance against the erstwhile
Taliban regime, the SSP joined other members of the Afghan Jehad Council
on September 20, 2001 in announcing a Jehad against the US forces if
they used Pakistani soil to carry out military attacks on the Taliban
regime. The SSP leadership while criticising the Pakistani Government's
decision of extending support to the US-led air attacks on the terrorist
training camps in Afghanistan also indicated that they would fight alongside
the Taliban militia.
1996, protesting against what they termed as the moderating nature of
the organisations, the more radical and extremist elements of the SSP
walked out of the outfit to form the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ),
a sectarian terrorist outfit that was proscribed by President Pervez
Musharraf on August 14, 2001. In contrast, the SSP has always retained
an explicit political profile, contesting elections and having been
a constituent of a Punjab coalition government. Despite SSP denials,
the LeJ is widely considered to be the armed wing of the Sipah-e-Sahaba.
SSP cadres have received arms training from the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen
and the erstwhile Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
SSP is also reported to be closely linked to the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM),
a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit active in Jammu and Kashmir. Maulana
Masood Azhar, JeM chief, speaking at a Jehad conference in October 2000
said, "now we go hand-in-hand, and Sipah-e-Sahaba stands shoulder to
shoulder with Jaish-e-Muhammad in Jehad."
SSP draws support, inspiration and assistance from various political
parties in Pakistan, primarily the Jamaat-e-Islam (JeI) and the Jamaat-Ulema-e-Islam
(JuI). The JuI is associated with running a large number of Madrassas
all over Pakistan from where recruits for the HuM, SSP and Taliban are
SSP reportedly receives significant funding from Saudi Arabia through
wealthy private sources in Pakistan. Funds are also acquired from various
sources, including Zakat and donations from various Sunni extremist
groups. Other sources include donations through local Sunni organisations
and trusts, Madrassas and study circles, and contributions by
political groups. Most of the foreign funded Sunni Madrassas
in Pakistan are reportedly controlled by the SSP.
SSP has also been linked to Ramzi Ahmed Yousuf, an accused in the New
York World Trade Centre bombing of February 1993, who was later captured
by the US authorities in February 1995.
like Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Jhang, Multan and Muzaffargarh are the SSP
strongholds. The dynamic leadership of Haq Nawaz Jhangvi is reported
to have popularised an anti-Shia campaign in their backyard, southern
and western areas of Punjab.
SSP has influence in all the four provinces of Pakistan and is considered
to be the most powerful extremist group in the country. It has also
succeeded in creating a political vote bank in the Punjab and North
West Frontier Province (NWFP). The SSP has reportedly 500 offices and
branches in all 34 districts of Punjab. It is also reported to have
approximately 1,00,000 registered workers in Pakistan and 17 branches
in foreign countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Canada
Incidents and Statements involving Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan:
2015 , 2014,