The Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) has been carrying out attacks against Shia since 1985 and has occasionally clashed with Barelvi groups.

It is a sectarian organisation created in Jhang, central Punjab, with the acceptance (and later support) of the regime, and has aimed to counter Shia assertiveness resulting from the Iranian revolution, transforming what were essentially economic and social grievances into outright hatred of the Shia. The SSP provided discontented people with a political platform and access to the political arena.

It is no coincidence that Jhang, where Shia landowners have traditionally held political power, became the first city to fall prey to sectarian violence in the mid-1980s. The SSP was created as an instrument to fulfil this objective. The SSP is now operating under the name Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and led by Ahmed Ali Ludhianvi.

Frederic Grare, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Director and Senior Associate, South Asia Program