Looming storm: Banned outfit’s leader whips up crowds in Khairpur

Published: July 31, 2011

Ishaq is out on bail from Kot Lakhpat after 14 years of imprisonment - he is accused of killing 70 people in 44 cases.

KARACHI: 

Malik Mohammad Ishaq, a leader of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, made an appearance in Khairpur on Friday to address the ‘Difaa-e-Sahaba’ conference in the city. The event was organised by Jamia Haidriah.

Ishaq was recently released on bail from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail after serving 14 years of imprisonment. Ishaq was accused of killing 70 people in 44 cases. He was acquitted in 34 and granted bail in 10 cases, including one in which he was charged with plotting the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore.

Ishaq’s presence in Khairpur is significant since the city was home to SSP leader Allama Sher Hyderi, who was assassinated in August 2009. A speaker at the conference invoked Hyderi’s memory while introducing Ishaq.

Ishaq spoke of his resolve to continue with his mission, he praised the leadership of the SSP and said he would continue to make sacrifices and work to defend Islam.

Ishaq has been on a publicity tour of sorts after his release and has even addressed people in his hometown of Rahim Yar Khan. “He is re-establishing himself as a leader,” says analyst Ayesha Siddiqa. “Even though there was no curb on his activities when he was in jail – there was his involvement in the Sri Lankan cricket team attack and other plans as well – but his physical presence means that he can organise things better. He is strengthening his base and we do know that the SSP is spreading rapidly in Sindh. For example, Ghotki and Jacobabad are very affected – you see SSP graffiti and flags there.” Siddiqa offered a grim view of militancy in the province, where she says Jamaatud Dawa is also making inroads. “While we are talking of peace in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the centre of militancy and radicalisation is in Sindh and Punjab.”

While he may have been in jail for 14 years, Ishaq appeared to be quite updated with the news of allegedly blasphemous content available online. He riled the crowd by describing blasphemous images in graphic detail. He also questioned the categorisation of religious leaders as being involved in militancy and sectarianism. The crowd waved flags and chanted slogans against a particular sect during his speech.

A video of Ishaq’s speech in Khairpur was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (the SSP’s new name). Scores of men can be seen attending the event and chanting slogans.

The Express Tribune previously reported that Ishaq’s family received a stipend from the Punjab government while he was in jail. Ishaq has also been provided with two police guards. According to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the man is under observation.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • anonymous
    Jul 31, 2011 - 6:03AM

    I guess we can expect a fresh wave of sectarian violence soon.. :(

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  • faraz
    Jul 31, 2011 - 9:54AM

    I think he should be appointed the Caliph; before that you’ll have to break up the country and carve out territories for minorities and minor sects

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  • Salman
    Jul 31, 2011 - 11:19AM

    Under observation? duh! so like, “spreading sectarianism, under MoI’s observation… licensed!” Are we supposed to conclude that the government and the establishment is a part of the plan to have continued chaos and sectarian violence in Pakistan? They can arrest and abduct and torture political activists, but what about these guys? Part of the plan, aye?

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  • Omer bin Abdulaziz
    Jul 31, 2011 - 11:20AM

    People should exercise restraint.
    The Shiites should ensure nothing blasphemous is said against the companions of the Prophet (SAW) and the Sunnis should in return remain calm.

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  • Muslim
    Aug 1, 2011 - 3:30AM

    I am amazed that how can people follow this hate preacher & who labeled himself as a defender of Islam. Just wondering that where Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) teaches us this face of Islam where killing those who believe in same Allah, Last Prophet, same Quran, Namaz , Hajj , Roza etc…. can earn you paradise. Isn’t this amazing

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  • Aug 1, 2011 - 9:17AM

    On next day of this LeJ gathering, 10 oil tankers bringing fuel to NATO was torched in an attack in area of district Khairpur.

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