Sectarian tensions: Alleged mastermind, five others arrested for GB unrest

Published: April 17, 2012
Main mosques sealed in Gilgit to curb violence. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Main mosques sealed in Gilgit to curb violence. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


The alleged mastermind and three others suspects wanted in the Kohistan, Chilas and Gilgit killings were arrested by law enforcement agencies on Monday, official sources in the Gilgit-Baltistan Police told The Express Tribune.

Over 450 personnel of law enforcement agencies – army, Northern Scouts, Gilgit Scouts, Rangers and FC – led by major and captain level officers took the wanted men into custody after five days talks with a jirga in Chilas. The forces had besieged the madrassah run by the main accused, Qari Muzamil Shah. The local jirga intervened and persuaded the wanted cleric to surrender. His other accomplices arrested were identified as Sher Ghazi, Shamsul Haq, Nisar, the official requesting anonymity said.

DIG Ali Sher told The Express Tribune by telephone from Chilas that the number of accused nominated in the killing was 11 and said that the Jirga will hand over the remaining six also as investigations continue.

The law enforcers also arrested a suspect wanted in Gilgit grenade attack on a rally of Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal-Jamaat earlier this month.  “We will arrest the main accused in the grenade attack, Zulfiqar Ali, a resident of Burmas in Gilgit,” the official said.

The group, led by Qari Muzamil Shah, was formed to avenge the tkilling of a lawyer and other target killings in Gilgit in January. They got training from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), led by Moulvi Asmatullah Moavia, in South Waziristan and Balochistan-based Jundullah group. The group in army fatigues on February 28 shot dead 16 passengers hauling them off buses in Kohistan district. Fifteen out of the 16 passengers killed were Shias.

The main accused, a resident of Chilas and local chief of the banned anti-Shia sectarian organisation, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) which was renamed as Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), collected funds in a rally for organising his group, sources in the security agencies said.

He was identified when he led the assailants stopped buses and shot dead nine passengers at Bunar Das near Chilas earlier this month.

Mosques sealed

The two main Sunnis and Shias mosques in Gilgit were sealed in an effort to stem sectarian violence.

“The two central mosques of Shia and Sunni sects have been sealed for an indefinite period,” a senior administration official said.

The closure of mosques were part of the overall steps being taken to stem sectarian strife that has brought life in the region to a standstill, he said, adding that the fate of both the mosques would be decided in due course.

Witnesses said that after sealing the main gates of both mosques, authorities have deputed security personnel to refrain people from violating the orders given to this effect.

Another senior official in the home department told The Express Tribune that they were encouraging citizens to inform authorities about people possessing illegal arms and ammunition. “The names of such people will be kept secret,” he said.

With a curfew still imposed and cellular phones jammed, the security forces, led by the army, are still patrolling roads to bring back normalcy to the city that fell into sectarian violence early this month.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.

Note: This article was revised for some editorial changes.

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Reader Comments (45)

  • Mirza
    Apr 17, 2012 - 9:59AM

    When a holy institution like mosque is taken over by the extermists and their supporters then it is no more a sacred place. These extremists should be dealt with iron hand and not allowed to go on the roads again after they change their names and identity. With the name of the party the people should also be banned to take part in any gathering let huge public gatherings.


  • A J Khan
    Apr 17, 2012 - 10:49AM

    Soon their lawyers will get them bails and the matter will never reach its logical end. Behind every criminal there is a Lawyer. The rule of law means that innocent will keep falling pray to the predators.


  • Mumbai Dude
    Apr 17, 2012 - 10:59AM

    Closing Mosques in an Islamic republic !!! Its like banning baseball in America.


  • SH
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:07AM

    Bravo! If only a national level campain against fanatic mullahs were to be carried out with similar zeal, Pakistan would be a better place. Psychos, in the sanctity of a place of worship and under the cover of a beard, spread hatred and venom born of illiteracy with impunity, in all our major cities. Lal masjid was filled with weapons…now there are many lal masjids in all over the country.


  • SaQiB
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:08AM

    They sealed Shia imam bargah as well????? thats impossible!! blunt impossible!! given the biasedness of government and army, any curb on Shia activities is near to impossible!


  • Atif Razzaq
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:13AM

    Excellent Action from Pakistan ARMY, Great job………………………..


  • Sheharyar
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:16AM

    This is what these parasites have brought this country to – the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan is sealing mosques to stop people from killing each other! Unless their monopoly on religion is destroyed (which they only have because of our ignorance and indifference to religious understanding) these uneducated and bigoted mullahs will keep destroying our country.

    “Banish from the house of God the mumbling priest whose prayers
    Like a veil creation from Created separate!

    Rear for me another temple, build its walls with mud—
    Wearied of their columned marbles, sickened is My sight!”

    God’s command to His angels – Iqbal


  • Arsalan
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:24AM

    fatigue or fatigues?


  • One who Know
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:24AM

    This is not the ISLAM which we know off ,this is simply terrorisim nothing else


  • Muntazir Mehdi
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:34AM

    well done!!


  • Umer
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:34AM

    after killing of hundreds and hatred, a good step forward at least and at last.


  • Taji
    Apr 17, 2012 - 11:34AM

    The ASWJ is a terrorist organization. It should be banned. This poison was created by the Zia regime. His regime destroyed the harmony which used to exist in Pakistan. One can write a book on the destructive nature of that regime and how it has changed the direction of the Quaid’s Pakistan.


  • Amman1
    Apr 17, 2012 - 12:08PM

    it is written in even in this news that a banned group renamed and again became legal……you think the Govt or officials or the common people are that dumb that they don’t know what is going on !!!!! its all mutual…if the Govt can do an operation clean up and arrests the people…..where they sleep at the times when this heavy weapons and ammunition is being brought and the a civil man or any extremist gets it….Recommend

  • Irtiza
    Apr 17, 2012 - 12:32PM

    I think it is the individuals that should be banned and not parties as the parties come up with new names under the same leadership.


  • Mir
    Apr 17, 2012 - 12:49PM

    don’t you see biasness when SSP,LeJ are permitted to carry out huge rallies, don’t you see biasness when 400 hardcore terrorists with the help of inside informer in LEA break prison and escape, dont you see biasness when everyday hazaras are being killed and government does nothing. Terrorist is a terrorist should be dealt with iron hands, ethnicities, religion does not matter. I hope this time terrorists wont be able to break prison or bribe, threat lower judiciary or kill witnesses just like in the case of Malik Ishaq.


  • Hammad
    Apr 17, 2012 - 12:52PM

    Now that we know this face of Islam. Let’s think about how it came up. Was it always there and only became visible now? Or is this also one of those western conspiracies to malign our religion?


  • ammar
    Apr 17, 2012 - 1:39PM

    Why is this terrorist organization ASWJ/SSP being allowed to hold public rallies, including those in DPC?

    Why is Imran Khan allowed to congregate with them?

    Can the ISI answer these simple question? What is Gen Kayani doing?


  • Apr 17, 2012 - 1:51PM



  • syed Imran
    Apr 17, 2012 - 2:14PM

    These terrorists must be proceeded against through special courts and punished promptly for deterrance otherwise this mayhem will continue-God Forbid


  • The Sacred Flower
    Apr 17, 2012 - 2:50PM

    Clear the mosque buildings and build public parks!….these two mosques in question were used by both the sects to spread hatred against each other….better build a science college at one place and arts academy at the other!


  • Qasim
    Apr 17, 2012 - 3:33PM




  • Saad
    Apr 17, 2012 - 3:46PM

    In June 2006, an anti terrorist court Judge Muhammad Jamshed Jadoon was killed in Gilgit. In 2005 IGP police Sakhi Ullah Tareen was murdered in Gilgit. In the same way tens of other high ranking government officials had been killed there in last ten years. The government has deliberately failed all these cases and justice was not served in any of the cases. So how can we expect that the situation in GB will normalize. Even the government officials are divided on sectarian grounds, so who will bring peace? If a judge who is there to solve disputes is targeted and killed then who will come forward to serve in such an environment. GB is one such area where practically there is no control of Pakistan and it is because of its own policies, system and government.


  • inch
    Apr 17, 2012 - 3:57PM

    problems problems everywhere……. what a country!


  • Iron hand
    Apr 17, 2012 - 3:58PM

    Good to see a well sourced, factually specific article that lays out the evidence against these terrorists. Those who defend these killers and their like with cries for “proof” and “evidence” will have to swallow hard.


  • Apr 17, 2012 - 4:10PM

    Both the Society and State have been too tolerant of religious extremists.Just see how extremists were handled in other Revolutions, French and Russian.


  • Kanwal
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:02PM

    Good that there are eye witness accounts of these people carrying out the killings. Now HANG them through a swift anti-terrorism court if the government and army is actually doing this sincerely.


  • M Ismail
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:33PM

    Gilgit Baltistan was peaceful region until 1988, when large number of extremists from Diamer and Kohistan attacked killed Gilgit and killed hundred of innocent people. This was the first incident in history of Gilgit Baltistan when people were killed in the name of Jehad by the orders of dictator Zia. There is a particular group which used to attack state institutes, armed forces and people belonging to Shia sect. Government should hang those Molvis who give Fatwa for killing people of opposite sects in the name of obtaining Jannah.


  • Truth
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:40PM

    @Saqib, absolutely correct


  • M Ismail
    Apr 17, 2012 - 5:43PM

    It is clearly mentioned in this news item that both Shias and Sunnis mosques have been sealed. If you want to know government’s baisness, please check the figures of killings. The people belonging to a community who are being killed daily, are the ones in majority who are detained by government and security agencies


  • observer
    Apr 17, 2012 - 6:43PM


    any curb on Shia activities is near to impossible!

    Sir ji, I think you failed to notice that the Shias were at the receiving ends of bullets through their heads and hearts.
    And bullets through heads and hearts make any activity more than ‘ near impossible’ .


  • Truth
    Apr 17, 2012 - 6:56PM

    @observer, then you are not aware of the ground realities. ASWJ name is taken w.r.t. any activity and innocent workers are arrested without any proof.


  • smj
    Apr 17, 2012 - 7:16PM

    another living proof of who is behind the sectarian killing… Thanks you GB, atleast you guys are not impotent like rest of provinces when its matter of arresting the real terrorist. Hopefully these killers who are identified in this genocide will not see the daylight again.


  • Pakistani First
    Apr 17, 2012 - 7:21PM

    Anybody who joins a terrorist organization is not innocent whether he killed or not.


  • Mustafain
    Apr 17, 2012 - 7:22PM

    nice one but what next. Are these people going to be prosecuted, probably not!

    chances are that even if they are prosecuted they will be freed by the our so called free justice system. No judge in Pakistan has the will or desire to sentence such criminals Recommend

  • ucantcme
    Apr 18, 2012 - 2:59AM

    just think for a while pulling innocent people from buses and killing them is Islam? Is this the teaching of islam. If not then the people doing this, believe its a jehad. And the believers of this kind of Islam are from sunni sect. shia faced the same situation in Iraq in saddam time. Why in Iran there is no sunni killing? why in lebonon there is peace for each and every one and because of this minorities love their leaders their govt,Why there is no revenge? the basic difference is the belief, these are the shia controlled countries. Now its clear for you to verify which path is right and which one is wrong!


  • Ahsan
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:15AM


    Not a single worker of A.W.S.J is innocent. Please get your fact right before making any comment


  • Truth
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:29AM

    Why in Iran there is no sunni killing? will be able to report the actual truth about this, but Iran will never allow it !!


  • Truth
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:32AM

    @Pakistani First, Why would an organization be considered a terrorist organization if it is declared by someone who is already wanted for taking innocent lives ?


  • Truth
    Apr 18, 2012 - 10:42AM

    @ucantcme, I think you mistakenly forgot Syria


  • Karim
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:28PM

    There was peace in the region during Musharraf Era……… the government sent to Adiala Jail both the main clerics of the Mosques.


  • Truth
    Apr 18, 2012 - 3:46PM
  • Noise
    Apr 18, 2012 - 7:57PM

    You do realize that Allah will punish Assad and his cronies for their crimes crimes and the Sunni tyrants and terrorists and their sympathizers for their crimes as well.

    But truth is all you can cite is Assad who is on the fringes of Shiism while killer from the Sunnis proudly declare themselves as mainstream. And there is no wanton killing of Sunnis in Iran, Lebanon or even Iraq. Although both Iran and Iraq both regularly suffer from bombing carried out by Sunni terrorists but still both avoid carrying out reprisals against innocent Sunnis and instead focus on finding and hanging the perpetrators, like civilized people, and they’re pretty good at it too.

    And any organization that seeks out & kills innocent people repeatedly in a attempt to threaten or demoralize a population is a terrorist organization, it doesn’t if the UN or anyone else declares them one or not. If a group carries out acts of terrorism then it is an terrorist organization. Like a thief is a thief regardless of whether people call him a thief or not. And similarly the the killer of the innocent is a murderer regardless of whether society condemns him as one or whether he manages to bully society into declaring him innocent, he remains a murderer before Allah and will face his punishment eventually.Recommend

  • Truth
    Apr 19, 2012 - 6:27AM

    You missed the point, @ucantcme’s comments mentioned some countries which had something in common, Syria was just added into the list since the commonalities exist there too.


  • Pragmatist
    Apr 19, 2012 - 9:20AM

    @Noise: “You do realize that Allah will punish Assad and his cronies for their crimes crimes and the Sunni tyrants and terrorists and their sympathizers for their crimes as well.”
    Why have police and courts at all? Just leave it to Allah to provide justice. At least the state will save money. In fact, while you’re at it, scrap the military too. Have faith in the higher force.


  • @Noise
    Apr 19, 2012 - 12:06PM

    Just pointing out that a crime is a crime regardless of who does it, and that crime deserves to be punished regarless of who carries it out. A lot people cant seem to understand that, citing events from places as far as America or Arabia to justify their barbarism at home. Here the mentality seems to be that the crimes of others are a license to totally abandon your own humanity.

    You may scoff at the mention of God but I have faith that true justice will be carried out, whether in this world or the next.


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