Many international and national analysts, scholars and journalist usually do not take into account some important distinctions between various jihadi and sectarian groups operating in Pakistan.
In his op-ed (in daily Express, 7 June 2010), Muhammad Amir Hashim Khakwani points towards some important distinctions between the deobandi jihadis (Taliban) and the salafi (wahabi) jihadis (Lashker-e-Taiba) operating in Pakistan.
Overall, it seems that:
1. The Salafi or Wahabi (Ahl-e-Hadith) jihadis of Lashker-e-Taiba (also camouflaged as Jamaat-ud-Dawa) are completely under the ISI’s control. In the current jihadi landscape, they are not involved in any act of terror against Pakistan Army or within the state of Pakistan.
2. The Deobandi jihadis of Taliban (most if not all of them) are no longer controlled by the ISI. Because of their ideological affiliation with the Afghan Taliban (of Mullah Omar), they have taken a much tougher and violent stance against the state of Pakistan and its armed forces, and are involved in most acts of terror within the country.
3. The Punjabi Taliban (dominated by terrorists of Sipah-e-Sahaba aka Lashkar-e-Jhangavi – a sectarian deobandi organisation) are now ideological leaders and mentors of the Taliban militants in Pakistan (known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)).
4. Taliban in general and the Punjabi Taliban (Sipah-e-Sahaba) in particular are currently very much annoyed with Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and his Lashkar-e-Taiba because of the latter’s persistence in tightly following the ISI’s commandments. Therefore, Hafiz Saeed’s life is currently under threat from the deobandi terrorists of Punjabi Taliban / Sipah-e-Sahaba. Here the ideological differences between Deobandis and Salafis seem to further compound their political differences in the current jihadi landscape in Pakistan.
5. Extremist Deobandis (TTP, Sipah-e-Sahab) consider it legitimate to attack all those Deobandis who are opposed to the TTP’s violent anti-military establishment agenda and tactics. Attacks on Maulana Hassan Jan shaheed (a Deobandi scholar from Peshawar) and Maulana Fazlur Rehman (a pro-military establishment religio-political leader) are an example of this phenomenon.
Given that this important perspective is often ignored in national and international press, we are cross-posting Khakwani’s article (in Urdu) on this topic.