LJ leader Malik Ishaq detained
RAHIMYAR KHAN, Feb 22: Vice president of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Malik Muhammad Ishaq, has been detained for one month after he offered his arrest outside his residence on the airport road here on Friday.
The arrest came after DPO Sohail Zafar Chattha negotiated for an hour with Malik Ishaq, who is also a leader of the outlawed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) which has claimed responsibility for sectarian attacks in Quetta that have killed nearly 200 people this year.
Talking to reporters before his arrest, Malik Ishaq said he was being arrested in connection with the Quetta bomb blasts, though he had no role in the incidents.
He said poor people from Sunni as well as Shia sects were being killed in the country, adding that they wanted peace. “I am ready to go to any forum to ensure peace and harmony in the country.”
He urged Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take notice of killing of Sunni people in Karachi. “He should hear views of both the sects. I will accept the decision of the judiciary.”
Condemning arrests of ASWJ leaders in Punjab, he said: “As many as 600 Ulema, party workers and madressah students have been killed over past three months, but no one from the rival sect has been arrested.”
He said ASWJ leaders and workers were being arrested on the orders of Interior Minister Rehman Malik. “If the minister has any evidence about our involvement in terrorist activities, he should produce it in court.”
Malik Ishaq also accused the minister of doublespeak, saying on the one hand he says ‘foreign elements’ are behind terrorist activities in the country and, on the other, he blames the LJ.
He said arrests could not stop them from carrying out their mission. He alleged that an alarming situation was being created in Rukenpur town of Rahimyar Khan district. “Followers of Shia sect are storing weapons and turning the town into their state,” he alleged.
Before the arrest of Malik Ishaq, a heavy contingent of police was deployed on the airport road.
He has been detained in a local prison, but there are indications that he will be moved to Lahore.
Reuters adds: Malik Ishaq was released from prison in July 2011 after spending 14 years behind bars charged with 34 counts of murder and terrorism.
He was released after the charges could not be proved — partly because of witness intimidation, officials said.