Maulana Sufi Muhammad, a radical Pakistani cleric who fought against international forces in Afghanistan after the 2001 US-led invasion, died here on Thursday due to illness, his family said.
Muhammad, 92, was father-in-law of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Maulana Fazlullah who led rebellion against Pakistan army from 2007 to 2009.
The death of the cleric was confirmed by one of his sons.
The cleric founded an extremist group, Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), with an aim to enforce Sharia law in Pakistan in 1992. The militant group took over much of Swat in 2007, despite being banned by then Pakistan president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in January 2002.
He led thousands of armed men to Afghanistan to fight against the western troop after US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Many of his followers were killed in Afghanistan and on his return he was arrested and put into jail on charges of waging a war against a friendly nation.
Muhammad had termed Pakistan’s Constitution “un-Islamic” and demanded enforcement of the Sharia law.
He had been imprisoned since his arrest when the final phase of a military operation against militants was launched in the Malakand region.
He was released from jail in January 2018 on health grounds.
A number of cases were registered against him; however, in each case, witnesses against him had either died or could not be traced.
Successive governments also did not adopt a uniform policy towards him, which can be termed as a reason for his non-conviction in cases registered against him.
The cleric was buried at his village Lal qila Maidan of Lower Dir District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Tens of thousands of people turned up at his funeral.
A large number of police personnel were deployed at his home and funeral site to avoid the possibility of any violence.