The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a Deobandi anti-Shia organisation, was created in the wake of the Iranian revolution to counter Shia influence in Pakistan.
The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a Deobandi anti-Shia organisation, was created in the wake of the Iranian revolution to counter Shia influence in Pakistan.

Pakistan turns into fertile ground for expansion of Islamic State, says US army veteran

ANI | Updated: May 07, 2019 21:21 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], May 7 (ANI): A United States army veteran has warned about the explosive potential of Islamic State (IS) influence in Pakistan, which he believes will only accelerate in the expected power vacuum left after a US withdrawal.
Expressing his views after the coordinated and sophisticated terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, Lawrence Sellin, a retired US Army Reserve colonel said that ISIS was originated in Pakistan and is now operating in Afghanistan.
Members of the Pakistani Taliban -- Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) began migrating to Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province as "refugees" in 2010 after Pakistani military operations against the TTP in Orakzai and Khyber Agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Lawrence said: "It was those "refugees" who provided a foundation for the Islamic State. That base support was augmented by thousands of Pakistanis who fought for the Islamic State in Syria and returned starting in 2013."
"In January 2015, the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) declared former TTP commander Hafiz Saeed Khan of Orakzai as the leader, whose twelve-member Shura had nine Pakistanis. It is the growing level of extremism and intolerance in Pakistan that should be of concern, which has been a threat to Afghanistan and will be the main contributor to instability in South Asia," he said in his article published in The National Interest, an American bi-monthly international affairs magazine.
Lawrence said: "It is the direct result of official Pakistani policy and the activities of Pakistan's ISI."
The "Islamization" programme initiated by former Pakistani President Muhammad Zia ul Haq in the late 1970s, which involved the proliferation of Islamic schools, "madrasas" and the promotion of Islamic law "Sharia," was specifically designed to create national unity by suppressing ethnic separatism and religious diversity.
Not surprisingly, radical groups have proliferated in Pakistan, becoming increasingly more extreme and intolerant.
The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a Deobandi anti-Shia organisation, was created in the wake of the Iranian revolution to counter Shia influence in Pakistan. The rapid spread of fundamentalist Deobandi ideology in Pakistan has been widely attributed to funding from Saudi Arabia.
When the SSP proved insufficiently militant for its growing population of zealots, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) was formed as a splinter group of the SSP.
In the search for ever purer forms of Islam, the ever more violent and intolerant Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami (LeJ-A) was created out of the LeJ which, over the last two years, has claimed responsibility for several bloody atrocities in Balochistan, Pakistan's southwest province. It has been reported that elements of the LeJ, now comprise the senior cadres of the Islamic State in Pakistan.
"Another so-called Islamic State affiliate operating in western Balochistan out of the city of Turbat, also known as a centre for drug trafficking, is Laskar-e-Khorasan, a group accused of killing religious minorities," said Lawrence.
Saudi support gradually shifted from the Deobandi to the more radical Ahle-Hadith movement, the Pakistani equivalent of Wahhabism. It is a small ideological step from Ahl-i-Hadith to the Islamic State, which explains the growth of its affiliates in Pakistan.
Among such Sunni-supremacist groups believed to have received Saudi funding is Jaish al-Adl, which has carried out attacks on Iran from safe havens in Pakistan and reportedly has links to the Islamic State.
Lawrence said in conclusion, "While downplaying the Islamic State threat in Afghanistan, US officials have virtually ignored the explosive potential of Islamic State influence in Pakistan, which will only accelerate in the expected power vacuum left after a US withdrawal." (ANI)

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