By Asad Gokal
Murder of Dr.Adil Khan, a result of the heightened sectarian tensions in the country or a plot to further aggravate them?
Head of Jamia Farooqia and a prominent religious scholar Maulana Dr. Adil Khan was gunned down along with his driver on 10th Oct, Saturday, in a suspected targeted attack. Dr. Adil was the son of SaleemUllah Khan, a renowned Islamic scholar and former President of Wifaq Ul Madaris Al-Arabia and founder of Jamia Farooqia. The attack raised sectarian tensions in the city as Sindh Govt immediately announced a one-month ban on pillion riding to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents. While hundreds of academics and scholars have been victims of the targeted attacks due to their faith, the timings of Dr. Adil Khan’s murder becomes an important factor in tracing his killers.
Dr. Adil Khan was the keynote speaker in the recent mass anti-Shia marches in Karachi and Islamabad, hosted by the banned Deobandi terrorist outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’at (ASWJ). Soon after his murder, Twitter observed the trend of #ShiiteAttackOnMolanaDrAdilKhan on the panel of the top 20 trends. The trend was endorsed by members of ASWJ including its deputy secretary-general, Maulana Masood Ur Rehman Usmani. Recently formed Ulema Committee Karachi announced a countrywide strike on 16th Oct which was endorsed by Sindh Traders Alliance (STA) in a meeting held between the president of STA, Jameel Paracha, with representatives of Ulema Committee including Aurangzaib Farooqui, president of ASWJ. Ulema Committee Karachi is the same cover name that was used by the banned outfit to host the 11th Sep grand rally in Karachi.
To curb the recent anti-Shia wave all over Pakistan, the Council of Islamic Ideology released a code of conduct in the light of ‘Pegham e Pakistan’ comprising 20 points and renowned scholars of all the sects signed the document. The document disallowed any individual or group to call a sect as infidels and instructed to leave such matters for the courts to decide. This went in direct contradiction with the demand of declaring Shia infidels in the recent campaign by the outlawed outfit. Moreover, the signatures of notable Sunni scholars such as Mufti Taqi Usmani and Mufti Muneeb Ur Rehman, who were the principal speakers in the recent rallies, further damaged the outfit’s agenda. Another demand of the outfit to observe social boycotting of Shia was laid to rest when renowned scholars of all sects were seen together in a private television show discussing the conspiracies behind the recent sectarian tensions in the country. All of this had damaged the outfit badly and they needed something to become relevant again. Dr. Adil Khan’s murder became that spark, but history says, the beneficiaries of the sparks are the igniters of it too.
Raja Bazar Incident
In 2013, nine people were killed in a clash when the annual Ashura procession was passing from outside the Taleemul Quran madrasa situated in the Raja Bazar locality in Rawalpindi. According to eyewitnesses, the clash erupted when the local Imam of the mosque spoke offensive remarks about the Shia sect which led to stones being hurled from and to the mosque. An angry mob among the mourners also snatched rifles from the policemen and started firing at the seminary. In response, fires were shot from the seminary too and it seemed like a full-fledged Shia-Sunni clash.
The violent clash led to the burning down of the seminary, ransacking of two markets, hundreds of shops set on fire, and attacks on three Imambargahs in different parts of the city. Protests were held all across the country against the burning down of the seminary. ASWJ Chief, Ahmed Ludhyanvi, demanded a ban on the Shia processions all over the country. Maulana Mustafa Baloch, Rawalpindi-based deputy information secretary of ASWJ Punjab, termed the incident a conspiracy against the madrassa which was a fortress of Islam against ‘batil forces’.
Four years after the incident, DG ISPR in a press conference claimed to have arrested the culprits of the Raja Bazar incident. He revealed that both the mosque and the terrorists who attacked and set fire to it, belonged to the same sect and it was a plot to create sectarian fault-lines in the country. In the confession video message of the arrested culprits, they confessed they were told to wear black to camouflage with the mourners of the procession while other members of their team were present in the seminary to initiate the attack. After burning down the mosque and initiating the clash, the group then attacked the markets and bazaars, all this time wearing black, to create sectarian violence in the city.
Murder of Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muavia
On 6th December 2013, ASWJ Punjab President Shamsur Rehman Muavia was shot dead in Lahore by unknown assailants. Following the attack, the outfit held violent protests all over the country brandishing weapons and sticks. Tires were burnt down by the angry protestors and markets were closed as three days mourning period was observed by the group. The attack came only three days after Allama Deedar Ali Jalbani, a prominent Shia cleric, was gunned down in Karachi thus giving the killing a further sectarian look. Four months after the incident, the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) busted a gang of sectarian killers belonging to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the militant wing of SSP. The gang also claimed the killing of Maulana Shamsur Rehman Muavia along with 16 other doctors, engineers, and professionals in the country. According to the arrested members of the gang, the Punjab President of ASWJ was killed as a result of internal political differences between ASWJ and LeJ and to further the sectarian differences in the country.
As police continue to probe the murder of Dr. Adil Khan, the hardliners of LeJ and ASWJ should not be overlooked in the investigation process. Killing members of their own have been a history of the group to get relevant in mainstream politics. At a time when sectarian tensions were cooling in the country, the murder of a prominent Sunni cleric has made the outfit active again.