Tehreek-e-Jaferia Pakistan (TJP) meaning 'movement of the followers of Fiqah-e-Jaferia’, the dominant Shia outfit in Pakistan was formed in 1992. The origin of TJP can be traced to the Tehreek Nifaz Fiqah-e-Jafria (TNFJ) meaning ‘movement for the implementation of Fiqah-e-Jafreia' (a school of Islamic jurisprudence which is traced back to its founder Imam Jafar Sadiq) which was formed in 1979 to protect the interests of the Shiite minority and to spread the ideas of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian leader who led the successful Islamic Revolution that overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979. It is widely believed that the Sunni clergy considered the name of Tehreek Nifaz-e-Fiqah-e-Jaferia as being offensive and opposed the Shias, a minority sect demanding the imposition of their fiqah (a school of Islamic jurisprudence) in a Sunni majority Pakistan. Following this backlash, the Shia leadership is reported to have changed the name from TNFJ to Tehreek-e-Jaferia Pakistan (TJP) in 1994. It is also believed that the outfit changed its nomenclature because the party, under Allama Arif Husseini, wanted to extend its membership to the non-Shias also.
An ideological split divided the movement into two groups: one headed by Hamid Musawi, the follower of Ayatollah Sheriate-Madari; the other headed by Arif Husseini, the follower of Khomeini’s teachings. Allama Hamid Ali Musawi's group continues to function under the old nomenclature of TNFJ. The TJP had, during the period of Allama Arif Husseini, undertaken upon itself to change the party's complexion from a religious organisation to a progressive political party acceptable to non-Shias as well. Towards this goal, a political committee was constituted to work out the future strategy in a given situation and negotiate with political leaders of standing to join hands to achieve the objective. But the leadership, predominantly religious scholars, dispensed with the committee to signal that the TJP was and will remain a religious organisation.
Allama Husseini was killed on August 6, 1988 in Peshawar. Amongst others, Captain Majid Raza Gilani, who belonged to Jhang, was accused of the incident. As he was one of the former staff members of President Zia, the TNFJ blamed Zia-ul-Haq for his murder and launched vigorous protests.
The objectives projected by the TJP are: the creation of a society based on ‘pure Islam’, the protection of social, political and religious rights of Shiites, the propaganda of Shiite ideas, coordination of all Pakistani Shiite organisations and the fight against imperialism. It also believes in Islamic egalitarianism and social justice. Two TJP members are also members of the Pakistani Parliament. The TJP is reported to have links with the Iranian clergy. The outfit sources its finances from the Shiite community in Pakistan, Iran as well as certain commercial groups.
The Tehreek-e-Jaferia Pakistan, led by Allama Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi, is a well-organised outfit, which effectively represents the interests of the Shia community in Pakistan with a significant following in Jhang. In recent years, as a result of increased pressure from the Sunnis, the TJP has preferred to adopt a more reconciliatory and accommodating posture than in the past when it appeared more assertive and threatening vis-à-vis the government and Sunnis. The TJP has several affiliated organisations, including Sipah-e-Abbas, Sipah-e-Ahl-Bait and youth bodies like the Imamia Students Organisation and the Imamia Organisation, which are reported to play an active role. Since 1994, the Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), a splinter group of the TJP with a significant following in Jhang has emerged as a prominent Shia terrorist outfit involved in anti-SSP campaigns, violence and target killings. The TJP is one of the five outfits that have been proscribed by President Pervez Musharraf on January 12, 2002.
The current violent phase between the two communities, who had lived in relative harmony for many centuries, is traced to the 1980s when a group of Deobandi militants formed the Anjuman Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASS), to wage 'war' against the Shia landholders in Jhang. The ASS, later re-named as the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), was established during the Islamisation campaign of the then President Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, and coincided with the Iranian revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini. The Shiite Ulemas (religious scholars) perceived his measures as an attempt to spread Sunnite norms of Hanifite type in the Shiite community. According to analysts, sectarian violence among the rival outfits intensified in the wake of the 'jihad' in Afghanistan as Pakistan, particularly the central and southern Punjab, served as a base for ‘mujahideen’ recruits. Most of these ‘mujahideen’ returned to Pakistan after the Russian forces pulled out in the late 1980s, and brought with them a sizeable supply of arms, ammunition and a proclivity for violence. They joined the extremist sectarian outfits and since then, sectarian rivalry was largely expressed through extreme violence. Rivalry between the two outfits intensified when the SSP founder Haq Nawaz Jhangvi was killed in March 1990. The same year also witnessed the killing of an Iranian diplomat, Sadiq Ganji in Lahore. In 1997, Jhangvi's successor Zia-ur-Rehman Farooqi and 26 others were killed in a bomb blast at the Lahore Sessions Court. In the aftermath, Iranian diplomat Muhammad Ali Rahimi and six locals were killed in an attack on the Iranian Cultural Centre in Multan. On April 12, 2000 three hand grenades were lobbed at a gathering in a Shia mosque in Mulawali, the hometown of Syed Sajid Naqvi, killing 13 persons, including five members of the family of Syed Sajid Naqvi. The grenade was reportedly hurled from an adjacent Sunni mosque. Shortly thereafter, a TJP leader, Syed Farrukh Barjees was killed at Khanewal near Multan on April 26. On November 23 2000, Anwar Ali Akhunzada, the central general secretary of TJP in Peshawar was assassinated by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
To counter the Sunni militancy, the Shias formed Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP) in 1993. It is generally believed that Maulana Mureed Abbas Yazdani created it in 1993 after he was convinced that the TJP would not allow its young cadres to physically counter the SSP. The Shia youth had been asking the TJP to take notice of what they called excesses of the SSP whose members were alleged to be targeting some of the Shia's beliefs. Allama Hamid Ali Musawi did not endorse the move. Subsequently, the Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan (SMP), headquartered at Thokar Niaz Beg, was created out of the TJP reportedly by Maulana Mureed Abbas Yazdani in 1993 and it adopted a more militant stance against the SSP than the TJP would allow.