Sufi Muhammad

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Sufi Muhammad bin Alhazrat Hassan, born in Dir, is the founder of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), a Pakistani militant organisation (declared a terrorist outfit and banned in 2002) vying for implementation of Sharia in Pakistan.[1][2][3][4] It operates mainly in the Dir, Swat, and Malakand districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.[3] Sufi Muhammad was jailed for sending thousands of volunteers to Afghanistan to fight the U.S. intervention in 2001.[5] However, he was freed in 2008 after he renounced violence.[6][7] He is the father-in-law of Maulana Fazlullah, who assumed the leadership of TNSM during Sufi's imprisonment.[3][5][8] He is described by BBC as a "follower" of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi Islamic school of thought,[9] and by the Jamestown Foundation as one of the "active leaders" of Jamaat-e-Islami in the 1980s.[10]

Background[edit]

Sufi Muhammad, born in Maidan, Dir, received religious education at Panj Pir, Swabi. The madrassah, those son of whose father is none other than Major Amir, famous for attempting an overthrow of Benazir Bhutto in the late 1980s in the infamous operation Midnight Jackal, is well known for running a exegesis of Holy Quran on FM radio station. Other alleged alumni include Mangal Bagh Afridi, Fakir Mohammad, and even (dubiously) Maulana Fazlullah.But this fact can not be denied,that the Institution continuosly announced the dissociation with the activities done by these miscreants.He is the father-in-law of Maulana Fazlullah, his one-time student. It is alleged by some sources that Fazlullah did not seek Sufi Muhammad's permission to marry his daughter, and, as a result, was in hiding in Bajaur agency for many years.[citation needed]

During the 1980s Sufi Muhammad actively participated in Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political party of Pakistan. In 1992 he split from the group to form TNSM.[3][10] From its "stronghold" of Malakand District in northwestern Pakistan, Sufi Muhammad and his group engaged in violent agitation for the enforcement of Sharia law.[9]

In October 2001, following the 9/11 attacks, Sufi Mohammad crossed into Afghanistan with thousands of his followers to help the Taliban fight the US-led forces.[9] After the Taliban was ousted from power in 2001, he returned to Pakistan, he was arrested.[3][5][9][10]

Sufi Muhammad remained in prison until 2008 when he agreed in talks with the Government of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to use his influence to work towards peace in the region.[6][7]

February 2009 ceasefire[edit]

Maulana Sufi Muhammad took part in negotiations with the government that led to the announcement of a temporary ceasefire in the Malakand region on 16 February 2009. The Pakistani government agreed to allow the implementation of Sharia in the region once violence had stopped.[4][8][11] Muhammad agreed to travel to Swat to discuss peace with Fazlullah and his followers. He told reporters, "We will soon open dialogue with the Taliban. We will ask them to lay down their weapons. We are hopeful that they will not let us down. We will stay here in the [Swat] valley until peace is restored."[12]

In early April 2009 Sufi Muhammad ended support for peace negotiations stating that the government was stalling the implementation of sharia courts in the Swat valley. President Asif Ali Zardari refused to sign any agreement until peace had been restored in the valley but failed to elaborate on how those conditions would be achieved.[13]

However, the president signed the Nizam-e-Adl-Regulation law for Swat, after it was hurriedly pushed through the national parliament a few hours earlier on 13 April 2009.[14]

On 19 April 2009 Sufi Muhammad declared that "democracy was un-Islamic" and that decisions made in the qazi courts could not be appealed in Pakistan's central judicial system. According to the cleric Western-style democracy had led to divides among Pakistanis and the judicial system had contributed to the factionalism. He ordered the central government to withdraw all judges from Malakand within four days and to set up a Darul Qaza, an Islamic supreme court, to hear appeals from local Sharia courts.[15][16]

2009 Arrests[edit]

On 3 June 2009, while engaging in Operation Black Thunderstorm against the Taliban, the Pakistani Army arrested senior aides to Sufi Muhammad in the Amandara region in Lower Dir. Among those aides arrested were Muhammad's deputy, Mohammad Alam, and his spokesperson, Ameer Izzat Khan.[17][18][19] Initial reports indicated that Sufi Muhammad himself and possibly two of his sons had also been detained although government sources would not confirm and would only say they knew of his "whereabouts."[17][20] TNSM sources confirmed that Sufi Muhammad and his sons were missing but suggested that he had gone into hiding.[18][20]

On 26 July 2009, the government announced the arrest of the cleric for encouraging violence and terrorism.[21][22] On 2 August 2009, police announced that he had been charged with sedition, aiding terrorism and conspiracy.[23][24]

In January 2011, Sufi Muhammad denied to an anti-terrorism court that he had any links to the anti-state Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and that he only sought enforcement of sharia in Malakand.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lakshman, Kanchan (2003-07-09). "Deep roots to Pakistan's sectarian terror". Asia Times. Retrieved 2009-02-19. 
  2. ^ Fair, C. Christine (2007-03-01). "The educated militants of Pakistan: implications for Pakistan's domestic security". Contemporary South Asia 16 (1): 99–100. doi:10.1080/09584930701800446. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Laws)". South Asia Terrorism Portal. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  4. ^ a b Jan, Delawar (2009-02-17). "Nizam-e-Adl Regulation for Malakand, Kohistan announced". The News International. Retrieved 2009-04-30. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Khan, Riaz (2007-10-27). "Inside rebel Pakistan cleric's domain". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  6. ^ a b "Top Pakistani militant released". BBC News. 2008-04-21. 
  7. ^ a b Toosi, Nahal (2009-02-15). "Taliban to cease fire in Pakistan's Swat Valley". Yahoo News. Retrieved 2009-02-15. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b BBC News - Pakistan agrees Sharia law deal
  9. ^ a b c d "Pakistan's militant Islamic groups". BBC News. 13 January 2002. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Nasir, Sohail Abdul (2006-05-17). [tt_news=740&tx_ttnews[backPid]=239&no_cache=1 "Religious Organization TNSM Re-Emerges in Pakistan"]. Terrorism Focus (The Jamestown Foundation) 3 (19). Retrieved 2009-02-09. 
  11. ^ Ali, Zulfiqar; Laura King (2009-02-17). "Pakistan officials allow Sharia in volatile region". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  12. ^ "Pakistan Blasted for Creating Taliban Safe Haven With Islamic Law Deal". Fox News. 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  13. ^ "Sufi Mohammed calls off Swat peace deal". Dawn. 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  14. ^ "President signs Nizam-e-Adl after NA nod". Daily Times. 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  15. ^ "TNSM chief sets 4-day deadline for establishing Darul Qaza". Daily Times. 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  16. ^ Shah, Saeed (2009-04-20). "Militants demand Islamic courts in troubled Pakistani region". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  17. ^ a b "Pakistan Swat leader aides arrested". Al Jazeera. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  18. ^ a b "Pakistan arrests senior Islamists". BBC News. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  19. ^ "Men with links to Taliban arrested". CNN. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  20. ^ a b "Three senior TNSM leaders arrested in Amandara". Dawn Media Group. 2009-06-05. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  21. ^ "Pakistan holds pro-Taliban cleric". BBC News. 2009-07-26. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  22. ^ "Sufi Mohammad arrested: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister". Dawn Media Group. 2009-07-26. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  23. ^ "Pakistan pro-Taliban cleric charged". Al Jazeera. 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  24. ^ "Swat deal broker cleric 'charged'". BBC News. 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  25. ^ "No link with TTP, Sufi tells court". Dawn.com (Dawn Media Group). 2011-01-03. Retrieved 2011-02-18.