Barelvi Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on the Horizon 

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By: Naimat Khan

KARACHI: A new sectarian outfit, modeled on the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), has emerged in the Punjab province of Pakistan, intelligence sources say. While the dominant milieu of armed groups in Pakistan is Deobandi, the new group, calling itself “Labaik Ya Rasoolallah”, is Barelvi.

“Labaik Ya Rasool Allah draws from the Barelvi strand of the Sunni sectarian bent. It seeks to target those from the Deobandi school of thought,” disclosed an intelligence official.

According to sources, the group initially restricted itself to protests and sloganeering but has gradually become more militarized. “It will be another Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). I fear it might be more lethal, if not checked on time,” said Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter terrorism officer. According to an intelligence official, the organization has targeted members of Tableeghi Jama’at’, a nonviolent and apolitical organization of religious preachers from Deobandi sect, in various localities of Punjab province.

The group’s emergence not only adds a new, disturbing dimension to the sectarian war in the country but also presents a serious challenge to the soft image of the Barelvi community. The Barelvi sect has long been seen the sect of Sufi and peace loving devotees.

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“It is not just the responsibility of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to check activities of the outfit but the elders of the Barelvi school of thought should also campaign against it, prevent its consolidation,” Khattab suggests.

Barelvi militancy is not entirely a new phenomenon. According to analysts, the Deobandi, Ahle Hadith, and Shia groups’ strength stem from their role in Afghanistan and support from Arab countries and Iran. However, Barelvi groups have never been part of jihadist or militant activities. “But in recent years, they became violent on the issue of the blasphemy law, especially on the issue of Mumtaz Qadri,” said Zia Ur Rehman, a Karachi based journalist and author of Karachi in Turmoil.

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It’s pertinent to mention that Sunni Tehreek, a Karachi based Barelvi group has been on the watch list of security agencies due to its activities for the last many years. “From the late 90s onward ST has been involved in target killing, extortion and land grabbing in Karachi whereas several criminal elements found it as cover after the military operations of 90s, however, mainstream Barelvi groups have never supported it,” told an official.

Other analysts, however, see it as a shadow of the Deobandi militant ecosystem, unlikely to replace the hegemony of Deobandi group. “The networks of Deobandi militancy in Pakistan are much stronger so I don’t see a Barelvi movement presenting much of a challenge,” according to Asfandyar Mir, a University of Chicago based scholar of armed groups in South Asia. “Deobandi militancy has benefitted from years of state patronization. Post 9/11, many Deobandi groups gained from Al-Qaeda’s support. Even now, many in the state apparatus have a soft corner for various Deobandi groups. The state will not cut a Barelvi armed group the same slack. Mumtaz Qadri’s fate would have been very different if he was from a Deobandi faction,” he opines.

 

Originally Publishe in The Frontier Post

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PPP’s Sindh Govt wants to shut Darululoom Karachi, Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia Banoori Town, Jamia Haqqania, other top Deobandi Seminaries

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By: Naimat Khan

KARACHI: The Sindh Government of Pakistan People’s Party has recommended to place top Deobandi Seminaries across Pakistan, including the one visited by senior party leader, Senator Saeed Ghani, for support during December 2015 local government elections, on watch list, it emerged on Monday.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal’s Sindh leader Qari Muhammad Usman said Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah is “out of his mind” as he is pondering to do “silly things”. “If they want to place our Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia and other top madaris on watch list, happily do it but you will have to face consequences,” the JUI-F leader warned.

Usman said it was impossible to place Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia Binoria Town and other top seminaries on watch list. Syed Murad Ali Shah visited Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia to offer prayers whereas his father had also visited the same seminary to offer special prayers during his regime. “No power can shut the religious seminaries.”

However, Sindh Religious Affairs Advisor Dr. Abdul Qayyum Soomro, refuted that there was any such list for recommending placing these seminaries was under watch. Talking to The Frontier Post, Soomro said none of the Madressahs mentioned by this newspaper is in the list. “I will share the original list tomorrow (today)” he said. He failed to present any list despite lapse of four days.

According to the list available to this scribe, the Sindh Government has proposed to place 94 seminaries, of which 52 are situated in Karachi, 15 in Sukkar, one each in Shahdadpur, Lahore, Multan, Attock, Ahmed Pur Shirkia, Mengora, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Akora Khattak and Rajore whereas two are situated in Balochistan.

Vast majority of these seminaries belong to Deobandi school of thought whereas few belong to Ahle Hadees School of thoughts. No Madressah from Barelvi or Shia sects are included in the list sent to the federal interior ministry for action. The interior minister has already showed displeasure over the list.

Of the prominent seminaries is Jamia Binoria Site, a seminary where senator Ghani had paid visit for election support, Jamia Banoria Town Guru Mandir, Karachi, which is a center of the Deobandi school of thought, Jamia Darul Uloom Korangi, Karachi, a seminary run by Mufti Rafi Usmani and Justice (R) Mufti Taqi Usmani, both sons Mufti-e-Azm Maulana Muhammad Shafi, and Jamia Farooqia Shah Faisal, Karachi.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial government of Sindh believes that the Purana Tableeghi Markaz Mingora Swat, Darul Uloom Momaniya Dera Ismail Khan, Dar Ul Uloom Masoodia Tank, Darul Ul-Uloom Haqqania Akora Khattak and Shah Tauheed Sunnah Pajwar should be placed on watch list. On last Thursday, the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had accused Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan led federal interior ministry of not cooperating with Sindh government regarding the 94 religious seminaries, which the provincial government had identified for their links with terrorism.

“Our government will never allow terrorists and religious fanatics to keep playing with the lives of innocent people even if the federal government refuses to cooperate, which is evident from the response of Ministry of Interior to 94 seminaries involved in supporting or penetrating terrorism,” CM Sindh said to the Sindh cabinet meeting that he presided over on Thursday, January 19, 2016.

Briefing the cabinet on the response of Ministry of Interior to ban 94 madaris allegedly involved in promoting terrorism, the chief minister said that in the Apex committee the list of the madaris was presented.

The Committee was told that 94 madaris were involved in terrorist activities. “They had presented solid evidences gathered from the terrorists arrested by the Law Enforcement Agencies and they had revealed startling disclosures against the said seminaries. After the interrogation the concerned agencies worked hard to collect solid evidences and on the basis of that information, evidence and recommendation a list of 94 madaris spreading over 46 pages was sent to Ministry of Interior” a handout issued from CM House reads.

“I was quite surprised that when an attempt was made to politicize the issue instead of taking action as recommended by the government,” he said and added “come what may we would go ahead and keep crushing the terrorists wherever they live or nurtured because we are the worst affected people of terrorism. At the hands of terrorists, we have lost our leadership, we have sacrificed the lives of our law enforcement agencies personnel and we have sacrificed our innocent citizens, including the children- enough is enough. It shows how much serious the federal government is to take action against terrorists”.

He told the cabinet that the reply of 46-page letter the Ministry of Interior has sent a three page reply and now “we have sent them reply of their letter and would see and definitely see what action they are going to take and this would ascertain their seriousness to eliminate terrorism from the country,” he said.

Published in The Frontier Post

A Deobandi seminary that supports Liberal Left not JUI-F

By Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Thousands of Deobandi seminaries across Pakistan are considered source of electoral strength for the religious political party, JUI-F, but at least one of the major ones have chosen for the second time to announce its support to a liberal political party, it emerged on Thursday.

According to a statement issued by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, Mufti Muhammad Naeem of Jamia Binoria Aalimiyah – an international Deobandi Islamic educational institute located in Karachi, Pakistan – has  announced to support PPP in the local bodies’ elections to be held on 3rd of December, next month.

According to PPP, the party delegation visited Jamia Binoria Aalimiyah and held a meeting with its administrator Mufti Muhammad Naeem, who assured them of full support local government elections.

“On this occasion Mufti Naeem said that Karachi needed development and for this there was dire need to resolve the problems of people above the political affiliation” the statement quotes him as saying and adding the same thinking was stimulus behind supporting PPP.

On this occasion Senator Saeed Ghani – who was leading the delegation – thanked Mufti Naeem for his support and assured him that the PPP will live up to the exceptions of the people. “According to the manifesto of PPP, masses are the source of power and PPP with the force of masses will defeat the opponents” the statement reads.

The Seminary, situated at 12 acres, imparts education to about 8 thousands students, male and female and is considered one of the few major Madrassahs of the Deobandi school of thought.

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Jamia Binoria Site – also known as Binoria University International and which was founded by the incumbent administrator Mufti Muhammad Naeem under the patronage of his father Qari Abdul Haleem in 1979 – had supported Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the 2008 general polls.

Instead of JUI-F, Mufti Naeem has always maintained good relations with Muttahida Qaumi Movement and PPP, source said. “This was the reason behind his announcement of support to MQM in 2008 and now PPP in 2015 local bodies’ polls”, a teacher associated with Madrassah said, recalling that when the MQM chief landed in hot waters for his condolence at the death of Sahibzadi Nasir Begum – wife of the chief of Jamaat-e- Ahmadiyya Mirza Masroor Ahmad, this was Mufti Naeem who issued a Fatwa in favor of MQM chief in July 2011.

Though many from his school of thought believed that the MQM chief Altaf Hussain had committed major sin by praying for a Qadianis, Mufti Naeem in his edict said MQM chief had done so in good faith and the same was not tantamount to belief of considering Qadiani as Muslims.

Mufti Naeem is also alleged of striking a secret deal between the MQM and owners of the Ali Enterprises, the garment factory which was put down to ashes with 258 people burnt alive. However, Naeem strongly rejects the allegations.

Though leaders of PPP have called it an achievement due to huge presence of the seminary’s students in Site Town, Wakeel Rehman, a senior reporter covering religious institutions and parties, downplays the importance of the support while citing some reasons.

“Religiously and academically the students and his religious followers follow Mufti Naeem but they pay least or no heeds to his political advices” said Rehman, adding the students have always supported JUI-F.

Published in The Frontier Post