Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) ranks have been under a concentrated attack for the past few years. Several key party leaders have been killed, and most of the remaining have barely survived assassination attempts. The party chief, Mulana Fazl-ul-Rehman himself lived through multiple targeted attempts; the most recent on October 23rd. The Sukkur attack on Khalid Mehmood Somroo, general-secretary of the Sindh chapter of the party, is a continuation of this deadly trend; one that could have been anticipated.
Somroo had been targeted six times before; this fact alone should have called for heavy police protection and an investigation into the cause. The Sindh police had provided ten constables to guard Somroo, eight of which fatefully stayed behind in Larkana. Is this a lapse on part of the police detail or Somroo’s camp? IG Police Sindh, Ghulam Hyder Jamali, has set up a 5-member investigation team with great aplomb, but with dozens of previous cases still “under investigation”, it is hard to be optimistic.
Five years have passed since Maulana Merajuddin, a former member of parliament from South Waziristan Agency and head of the JUI-F in the FATA region, was shot dead in May 2010. Similarly, another JUI-F leader and former mayor, Haji Muhammad Azeem and Haji Gul Rahman Afridi, the former local chief of the JUI-F, were assassinated in 2012, and the investigations are closed in all but name.
In the past, banned militant outfits such as Taliban (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi/Sipah-e-Sahaba (LeJ-ASWJ) and their varoius frnachises (Ahrar, Jundallah etc) have clalimed the responsibility for the attacks on Maulana Fazl ur Rehman and other leaders of JUI-F. Despite the fact that JUI-F shares the same Deobandi sub-sect which is adhered to by TTP, LeJ-ASWJ and other militant outfits, its leaders and other relatively moderate Deobandi clerics have not been spared from carnage.
Ironically, apart from the police, almost everyone in the nation has a tentative idea about who could be behind this campaign. JUI-F, the country’s largest Deobandi religious party, and also the most conservative, drew the ire of its extremist and hardcore elements when it decided to be part of the ruling coalition after the 2008 election. Since then, its two splinters openly support the Afghani Taliban and several other offshoots are banned by the state. The JUI-F is attacked for being too soft regarding their Deobandi teachings, its unity stance towards Sunni Sufis and Shias, and for pandering to ‘anti-Islamic democratic leaders.’ The second probable cause, also of JUI-F’s own creation, is its role in the raging sectarian conflict, especially in Karachi, where tit-for-tat killings are the norm. Despite knowing these leads, the police appears clueless.
Source: Adapted with some additional information from The Nation: http://nation.com.pk/editorials/30-Nov-2014/sukkur-shooting