The chief of Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Ahmed Ludhianvi, has demanded that the group’s Karachi leader, Orangzaib Farooqui, be taken off an FIR filed in the murder case of Askari Raza, who was killed in Karachi on Saturday evening. He warned that a large-scale sit-in will be held if the government does not accept their demands.
Ludhianvi, flanked by a number of leaders from religious parties, including the Fazlur Rehman and Samiul Haq factions of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, spoke at a press conference at the ASWJ’s headquarters. Ludhianvi said that the sit-in at the Governor House will be attended by the leaders and workers of ASWJ, all Deobandi parties and seminaries linked to the Wafaqul Madaris alArabia, and other parties aasociated with us.” Other clerics warned that if the government’s “favouritism” for the members of the Shia sect continued it will not be able to control its workers’ “sentiments” any longer.
Farooqui was conspicuous by his absence at the press conference. When asked, Ludhianvi said that it was because of the current situation and that they do not want him to be arrested. Ludhianvi also said that the ASWJ, which is widely considered as a new avatar for the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), is a “peace loving” party. Ludhianvi claimed that ASWJ workers have not reacted or damaged property for any of its own men that have been killed, and that he was called in by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan who appreciated him and other clerics for their role in restraining mourners at the funeral of the mosque’s khateeb, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Nadeem, in 2010. He claimed that over 200 of the party’s supporters were killed in the past year but there were few arrests made and anyone arrested was freed by the government within a few days after the intervention of ‘individuals’.
He also demanded that the president take notice of Senator Faisal Raza Abidi and Sindh Assembly Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza visiting the protestors who staged a sit-in at the Governor House on Sunday and asked that they should either associate themselves with a political party or with a religious sect.
The ASWJ also believed that the group was being targeted because of its growing popularity, especially in light of its role in the formation of the Difaa-e-Pakistan Council – a coalition of over 40 religious parties.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2012.