Original Articles

Thanks to PML-N, sectarian violence may revisit Punjab

Source: The News, February 27, 2010

Jhang fears return of sectarian violence
PML-N sees no harm in seeking banned outfit’s blessing

By Khalid Hurral & Babar Dogar

JHANG/LAHORE: A defunct sectarian organisation, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), is rearing its head again and its leader’s participation in an election rally in PP-82 constituency, along with Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, has sent shivers down the spines of citizens here, who have seen sectarian bloodshed for over a decade before it subsided in 2002.

The city has witnessed inauguration of development projects by the chief of the defunct organisation. One can see SSP’s flags across the city, and all this is going on under the nose of the administration and police.

In the last general elections, Jhang voters rejected the SSP candidate and, for the first time in two decades, the SSP failed to secure any seat in the district. However, people allege that MPA Sheikh Muhammad Yaqoob, who won from the Pakistan Muslim League-Q platform, switched over to the Pakistan Muslim League-N and started backing the defunct organisation. Yaqoob denies he ever patronised the banned organisation.

People allege that local authorities, especially police, were turning a blind eye to the resurrecting outfit and show of force by its gun-toting activists.

Officials deny this charge when they are asked to explain the unchecked display of firearms. Some of the officials, however, do admit that the situation is alarming, but they refuse to say anything on record.

Their fear is not unfathomable. A few months back when some miscreants, allegedly belonging to the banned party, burnt a train and the government and private offices and property, police launched a crackdown on the law-breakers. However, later, the transfers of the district police chief and the city SHOs put them in a passive mode and they started showing reluctance in continuing the investigation into the cases of arson.

When they are reminded that the law is being flouted publicly and they are inactive, their response is usually a counter question: “Do you think we are greater protectors of the law than the law minister. Go and put this question to the law minister and the PML-N lawmakers.”

Sources revealed that the district police have discharged many SSP activists from the Fourth Schedule. Nowadays, the SSP leaders can be seen moving in the city with masked gunmen around. DPO Sultan Ahmed Chaudhry told The News he had sought a report from the police concerned about the SSP’s activities. After getting the report, he added, he would be able to say anything on the issue. He said the police were performing their duties according to the law.

When asked how come development projects had the names of a proscribed outfit’s chief, District Officer Roads Aslam Khan claimed he never issued any orders to that effect. When contacted, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah admitted that the SSP was a banned organisation and majority of its activists involved in criminal activities had been nabbed by the law-enforcing agencies. He said the organisation still had a huge following, who are not involved in any criminal activity. About Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi, he said he was a runner-up in the 2008 general election, and he had grabbed 45,000 votes against the PML-Q’s Sheikh Waqas Akram.

“If Maulana Ludhianvi was an activist of the banned organisation, why he was allowed to contest the 2008 election?” He alleged that PPP’s Federal Minister Tasneem Qureshi had invited the Maulana to a lunch at his Sargodha residence to seek his support for the PPP candidate in Jhang by-polls. He claimed that some provincial and federal ministers of the PPP had also visited the Jhang residence of Maulana Ludhianvi to seek his support.

Nevertheless, he said, Maulana Ludhianvi, on his request, had decided to support the PML-N candidate, Azam Chela, and made an announcement in this regard at a public meeting, which was also attended by him (minister).

The minister said the PML-N had made him the in-charge of the election campaign in Jhang and he was present along with Maulana Ludhianvi at the public meeting. Moreover, he said, Sheikh Waqas Akram was supporting the PPP candidate in the Jhang by-polls and he was behind all this propaganda, to win over the Shia community votes and to neutralise Maulana Ludhianvi’s support for the PML-N candidate.

He claimed that he was not afraid of the propaganda as he had done nothing illegal or wrong. He further claimed that Federal Ministers Qamar Zaman Kaira, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and all provincial ministers, including Senior Minister Raja Riaz, were striving to win the support for their candidate and indulging in propaganda against him. He stated that Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer had also announced a visit to the constituency.

The minister’s view that the SSP chief was an electoral candidate raises a serious question: “Isn’t it a dereliction of duty on part of our state apparatus that a defunct outfit’s leaders went through the pre-election scrutiny?”

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  • Milad processions also attacked in Faisalabad, Sargodha Seven killed in DI Khan violence Monday, March 01, 2010 – Over 130 held in DIK, Faisalabad swoop; curfew imposed, lifted in DIK; four hurt, 100 vehicles torched, police record burnt in Faisalabad; over 12 injured in Sargodha attack By our correspondent
    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27541

    DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Police and security forces on Sunday arrested over 100 suspects in a swoop launched after sectarian clashes during the Milad-un-Nabi procession and, subsequently, between protesters and the police in Dhaki village. The two clashes left seven people dead and many others injured.

    The situation remained calm and under control after Saturday’s violence in Dhaki, some 50 kilometres from the Dera Ismail Khan city.The authorities had enforced curfew from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm and took strict security measures to avert any further untoward incident.

    At least, seven people were killed and 32 others sustained injuries in the violence and clashes between the protesters and personnel of police and security forces.Eyewitnesses said that a procession was taken out from the Bilal Mosque in connection with the Eid Milad-un-Nabi (PBUH) in Dhaki village on the Dera-Chashma Road.

    After covering some distance, the students of a seminary of another sect blocked the road for the procession and did not allow them to proceed.The situation worsened when participants of the procession and the students exchanged hot words.

    Subsequently, the sources said, the religious students started firing at the procession in which Muhammad Irfan Kanju was killed on the spot while nine others sustained injuries.Some of the wounded persons were identified as Muhammad Abid, Jehanzeb, Muhammad Naveed, Mumtaz and Ijaz.

    The sources said the students involved in the firing on the procession fled after the incident.However, the members of the procession took out a protest rally as a large number of people from the nearby villages thronged the place and joined the protesters.

    Eyewitnesses said a fierce clash between the enraged protesters and the police erupted after the former attempted to block the road and set the seminary and the house of the cleric heading it on fire.

    The police, led by District Police Officer (DPO) Gul Afzal Khan, tried to stop the mob by blocking the road.However, the protesters did not disperse, which forced the police to use batons and fire teargas shells at the protesters.

    The protesters, the sources said, reportedly opened fire on the police in which Sepoy Sanaullah of the Elite Force, Sepoy Asmatullah of Paharpur police station and the DPO’s security guard Tahir sustained injuries.

    The sources said the police and protesters exchanged heavy fire in which six people were killed and 32 others were injured.Those killed included Muhammad Hanif, Azizullah, Hafiz Alam Sher, Sanaullah, Hashmat Ali and Ahsan.

    Some of the wounded persons were identified as Muneer Ahmed, Kifayat, Muhammad Ramzan, Naseer Ahmed, Muhammad Yousaf, Zafar Iqbal, Ghulam Dastagir, Khadim Hussain, Mehroban, Gul Sher and Fida Hussain.

    Most of the injured were admitted to the DHQ and Paharpur hospitals while the seriously-wounded persons were shifted to various hospitals in Islamabad, Multan and Peshawar.

    Maulana Zahid Mahmood told journalists in police custody that the participants of the procession allegedly pelted the main gate of Gole Masjid with stones and used abusive language. According to sources, Gole Masjid Ghulam Muhammadabad was considered the main centre of banned Sipha-e-Sahaba.

    FAISALABAD: Some unidentified persons opened fire on Eid Milad-un-Nabi procession near a mosque in Ghulam Muhammadabad on Saturday afternoon, injuring at least four persons seriously.

    Infuriated participants of the procession blocked the road by setting tyres on fire and later attacked the Ghulam Muhammadabad police station. They pelted stones and torched vehicles parked on the police station premises.

    More than 100 vehicles, including impounded vehicles, wagons, motorcycles and cars and motorcycles of the police officials, were set ablaze, while the criminal cases record of the police station was also burnt to ashes.

    However, a local official denied the earlier reports about torching of 150 vehicles and motorcycles. He confirmed that 50 vehicles and 10 motorcycles and record of the police station were gutted during the incident.

    When the fire-brigade staff reached the police station, the furious religious workers pelted them with stones. The police have reportedly arrested four persons on charge of involvement in firing on Milad-un-Nabi procession and damaging the public property. However, their names were not disclosed by the police.

    After setting on fire the police station record, the protesters ransacked the house of Maulana Zahid Qasmi, looted valuables and set his house on fire. This caused serious damage to a gas pipeline in the area, which resulted in burning of a nearby house and two cars parked along the road.

    The furious protesters also burst into the Madrassa run by Zahid Qasmi, but the police took prompt action and got vacated the building.

    Meanwhile, both factions of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan, Sahibzada Fazle Karim faction and the Rasool Group, announced to observe a complete strike in Faisalabad on Sunday against the incident of firing on Milad-un-Nabi procession and asked the trade organisations to close down their businesses on Sunday against the incident. The JUP leaders also announced taking out protest rallies in Faisalabad and stage sit-ins at various points, including Ghanta Ghar Chowk.

    Police have registered a case against 25 persons, including 15 top activists of different sects under 7-ATA and various sections of the PPC. The police have also arrested 10 people, including Maulana Ziaul Qasmi, general secretary of the International Khatme Nubuwwat Movement.

    Meanwhile, religious scholars staged a protest to condemn the attack on the house and seminary of Jamia Qasmia. The eight bazaars were closed as the protest demonstration entered the downtown area.

    Addressing the protesters at Ghanta Ghar Chowk, Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi and Maulana Ilyas Chinioti termed the incident a conspiracy against peace of this city.

    Meanwhile, the Khurrianwala police have also booked 12 activists on the charge of displaying arms on Eid Milad-un-Nabi. Those booked included Bilal, Tanveerur Rehman, Naveed Zafar, Saleem, Naveed Taj, Rizwan Afzal and Abdul Ghafoor.

    SARGODHA: About 12 people were injured in an attack on Eid Milad-un-Nabi procession at Chak 35/NB on Saturday. A complainant, Asif, told the Sadr police that dozens of people attacked the Eid Milad procession with sticks at the behest of Aziz. As a result, he, Faisal, Azhar, Atta Muhammad and others sustained minor injuries. The police have registered a case against Faisal Munir, Ansar Munir, Atta Muhammad, Mumtaz, Ashraf, Imran, Fayyaz, Allah Ditta, Qaisar Abbas and Aziz. The police have also arrested some of the accused.

    Meanwhile, Markazi Milad Committee Convener Khalid Iqbal Musarrat demanded strict action against the attackers. In the meantime, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the IG Punjab to conduct an inquiry into the incidents, while the IG reviewed the situation.

    ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has also ordered a joint investigation to probe the incidents occurring on Saturday in Dera Ismail Khan and Faisalabad.

  • With all the violence associated with religious extremist, all the political leadership should be very careful in even trying to make friends in such groups. This could end up harming their political position in the country severely.

  • Riyadh asks Pak leaders to unite against terror Monday, March 01, 2010 News Desk
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27549

    RIYADH: Expressing concern over the law and order situation in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has urged the Pakistani leadership to get united to fight against terrorism and extremism.

    Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, flanked by visiting Indian delegation led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while addressing a press conference here on Sunday said: “Pakistan is our friendly country and any threat to our friendly country makes us not only sorrowful but also worried.”

    He said that it was the duty of the Pakistani politicians to confront the extremism by bringing unity in their ranks. “We are confident that the Pakistani leadership would succeed in stamping out the threat of extremism through unity.”

    He said Saudi Arabia had no links with the Taliban. He said ever since the Taliban gave refuge to al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia dissociated itself from the Taliban and this factor was reflective of the fact that how serious the Kingdom was in eliminating the menace of terrorism.

  • Since Pakistan is blood bathed by some brutal and so called custodian of Islam and security forces have rendered countless sacrifices to impede these brutal, at the same time Punjab Govt is seeking help of the sectarian outfit in the upcoming by-elections in Jhang. The Punjab government of Shahbaz Sharif has been in denial mode ever since it came to power. That its law minister himself should co-ride with the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) amir in his official car is an affront to the Constitution on which oaths of public office are taken. That this should happen after the Mian Channu bomb blast incident involving an SSP member adds to the gravity of the crime. What is ironic is that a PML-N member threatens to handcuff Punjab’s governor for the innocuous action of celebrating basant when they have grave crimes tumbling out of their cupboard! The PML-N is a mainstream political party and one expects a level of maturity from their representatives. The revival of such militant outfits can cause unrest and moreover there is credible proof that these organisations are now working in collaboration with al Qaeda as suggested by the law enforcement agencies after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. It would be devastating if such elements are allowed to regain their strength. This is most certainly not the horse you would like to bet on Mr Nawaz Sharif!
    This picture very clearly depicts that PML-N has no concern with the innocent masses; their own personal interests are of key importance. It forces to think someone, what is the agenda of PML-N, either it is a democratic party as it pretends, or supporter of killers and extremists elements. This situation does not augur well, if this party comes in rule it would certainly put Pakistan’s survival at stake.