Sunni Tehreek was formed in Karachi in 1992 under the leadership of Riaz Hussain Shah of Multan. Because of its aggressive stance on the refugee population in the city, it was met with opposition by the Muhajir-aligned Muttahida Qaumi Movement which delayed the spread of ST's influence for some time. During this period some of the central leaders of the ST, such as Saleem Qadri, Abbas Qadri, Akram Qadri and Dr. Qadeer were assassinated.
After the fragmenting and decline of the MQM, Sunni Tehreek arose as the primary opposition to the Deobandi Banuri Mosque, headed by Nizamuddin Shamzai. The Sunni Tehreek strongly opposed the giving of important religious posts to Deobandis. Its branch in Lahore publicly declared its opposition to the appointment of a Deobandi cleric as khateeb of Badshahi Mosque, and other similar appointments..
On Feb. 28, 2009, Muhammad Sarwat Ejaz Qadri, Sunni Tehreek chief announced the formation of Pakistan Inqilabi Tehreek, the political wing of the party, at Nishtar Park as part of the Janisran -e- Mustafah conference. He said the party would continue its struggle for Muslims and Pakistan. He also criticized the forcible implementation of militants interpretation of shariah in Pakistan's Swat province, whilst at the same time voiced clear condemnation of all terrorist activities which were perpetrated under the name of Islam and vowed to support the Pakistani cause for stability. He heavily criticized the Deobandi Jihadi leaders, accusing them of being sponsored by Indian Intelligence agencies as well as involvement in terrorist activities.
Between 1992 and 2002, Bralevy organizations, such as the Sunni Tehreek (ST), forcibly took over dozens of Deobandi and Salafi mosques in Pakistan, claiming that the mosques had been usurped earlier by their opponents. It was believed that the mosques did actually belong to Barelvis previously but were captured covertly by Wahhabis and Deobandis. These incidents often sparked violence. In May 2001, riots broke out in Pakistan after the assassination of the ST leader Saleem Qadri. In April 2007, Sunni Tehreek activists attempted to regain power of a mosque in Karachi taken over forcibly by the Ahle Hadith movement in late 1980, resulting in one death and three injuries. Survivors were reported to the police to have fled the scene.
In May 2001, sectarian riots broke out after Sunni Tehreek leader Saleem Qadri was assassinated by the Sipah Sahaba Pakistan(SSP), a Deoband-affiliated terror group. His successor, Abbas Qadri, charged President Pervez Musharraf's regime with "patronising terrorists" and "standing between us and the murderers."
When the SSP's Karachi finance secretary was arrested after the murder of Sunni Tehreek chief Saleem Qadri, he revealed that his organisation received 32 lakh rupees a year from Karachi for the purposes of posting bail, assisting its imprisoned activists and the families of deceased activists. This entire amount was reportedly kept as amanat (safe custody) with one Maulvi Saadur Rehman, head of a religious school in Karachi, and the withdrawals were made through written messages.
At least 57 people were killed and over 200 injured when a bomb ripped through a religious congregation in Karachi on April 11, 2006. Called to celebrate the birthday of the prophet Mohammad, the congregation had been organised by the Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat. Experts believe that the bombers targeted Abbas Qadri, leader of the ST.
While banning the strongly Deobandi SSP, Musharraf refrained from banning the Sunni Tehreek. The Deobandis became quite powerful under President Zia ul-Haq, himself a devout Deobandi. By sparing the Sunni organisations, Musharraf sought to ensure that the Barelvis would not create trouble for him.