The proportion of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) members that are of the Shia faith; treatment of Shia MQM members [PAK41849.E]

Information posted on the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) indicates that the MQM faction, led by Altaf Hussain is reportedly

aligned with the Shia sectarian parties, a factor corroborated by the fact that there has largely been no sectarian strife in the areas of Karachi under the MQM (A) influence, which includes the portion of district Central where the large Shia community of Rizvia Colony is located (n.d.).

A New Delhi-based, independent, English daily newspaper, The Pioneer, identified Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) activists as "Shias by caste" (26 Dec. 2001). No additional information on the proportion of MQM members that are of Shia faith could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within time constraints.

References to the treatment of MQM members who are of the Shia faith could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within time constraints. However, according to the Times of India, Pervez Musharraf set up army courts to try MQM activists on the orders of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharief (20 Oct. 1999). This action resulted in the execution of two death penalties and the imposition of another 100 death sentences, which in the end were not carried out because the courts were declared unconstitutional by the supreme court (Times of Inida 20 Oct. 1999). Nevertheless, the media described Musharraf as "anti-MQM and anti-Shia" (ibid.).

In its International Religious Freedom Report 2002, the United States Department of State wrote that

Sectarian violence and tensions continued to be a serious problem throughout the country. ... Despite the Government's ban on groups involved in sectarian killings, violence between rival Sunni and Shi'a Muslim groups continued during the period covered by this report. Many of the victims were Shi'a professionals--doctors and lawyers--who were not politically active or involved with sectarian groups (7 Oct. 2002, Sec. III).

Freedom House reiterated the reports of violence against Shia professionals, while adding information about the Sunni and Shia conflict, as well as violence within the MQM in the annual Freedom in the World 2003:

Violence among rival factions of the Karachi-based Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), which represents Urdu-speaking migrants from India, and between the police and the MQM, killed several thousand people in the 1990s, but has abated in recent years, although harassment of their activists continues. ... Sunni and Shia fundamentalist groups continued to engage in tit-for-tat killings, mainly in Punjab and Karachi. ... Attacks on Shia mosques in February and April left dozens of worshippers dead .... (16 June 2003).

For additional information on the treatment of MQM members, please refer to Sections 1(a), 1(d) and 1(f) of Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2002.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties 2002- 2003. Edited by Adrian Karatnycky et Al. [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

International Religious Freedom Report 2002. 7 October 2002. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 8 Aug. 2003]

The Pioneer [New Delhi]. 26 December 2001. Wilson John. "Columnist Warns India to Be Wary of Cunning, Opportunist Musharraf." (Dialog)

South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). n.d. "Haqiqi Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM-H), Terrorist Group of Pakistan." [Accessed 7 Aug. 2003]

Times of India [New Delhi]. Mahendra Ved. "Musharraf Turned Defeat to Advantage." (Dialog)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Internet sites, including:


Danish Immigration Service

Daily Excelsior [Jammu and Kashmir]

Dawn [Karachi]


European Country of Origin Information Network

Freedom House

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Human Rights Watch

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

International Crisis Group (ICG)

Middle East Times

Minority Rights Group International


United Kingdom, Immigration and Nationality Directorate

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Search engine: