Sectarian groups pose grave threat to Pak: Report

Pak`s sectarian groups have grown "stronger than ever" and pose a grave threat to state and society, an assessment by intelligence services states.

Updated: May 28, 2012, 15:25 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan`s sectarian groups have grown "stronger than ever" and pose a grave threat to state and society, according to an assessment carried out by intelligence services.

A report of the Intelligence Bureau has warned that organisations like the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jundallah are more powerful than in the 1980s and 1990s, when they wreaked havoc across the country through sectarian attacks, The Express Tribune reported on Monday.

"Even today they pose a challenge as big as al Qaeda and they are getting more powerful. Imagine where they will be in a couple of years," an unnamed official who was part of the Intelligence Bureau team that prepared the report was quoted as saying by the paper.

The report contains information on SSP, LeJ and associated groups and individuals outside Pakistan after monitoring their activities for several months.

The report states that the SSP and LeJ have extended their network outside their traditional strongholds in southern Punjab, southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the Pashtun belt of Balochistan, including Quetta.

"Now they are everywhere from interior Sindh to the base of the Himalayas," the Intelligence Bureau official said.

The SSP and LeJ were among several groups banned by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2002 but their infrastructure and manpower remained untouched.

"We went into hiding for some years but our system was very much there," an unnamed activist of SSP told the daily.

"That is why we are back no...With more force. Allah helped us revive," remarked Maulana Mohavia, who runs a seminary in Tokhar Niaz Baig outside Lahore.

Amir Rana, director of the independent think tank Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, which monitors such organisations, said the militant groups had been attracting more manpower after they were joined by international players like Al Qaeda after the 9/11 terror attacks.