LAHORE: The Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) has hit back at reports of a ban imposed by the Government of Pakistan, stating that the action was being carried out on the directives of the United States.
“These attempts at banning ASWJ are on the directives of the USA,” chairperson Maulana Ahmad Ali Ludhianvi told The Express Tribune on Saturday.
Ludhianvi said, “In the last few months, we have been peacefully busy in the defence of Pakistan with the Difa-e-Pakistan rallies, so which activity of ours has been a reason for the ban.”
“Ahl-e-Sunnat is a school of thought and not an organization so we consider this as a ban on the Ahle-e-Sunnat followers.”
None of the offices of the ASWJ have been sealed by the government so far, Ludhianvi told The Express Tribune, adding that no official documentation had been sent to them and they found out about the ban via the BBC Urdu report.
The report states that a notification had been issued by the Interior Ministry two weeks ago, which said the ASWJ was suspected to have been involved in terrorism related activities. According to the notification available with the BBC, authorities in all four provinces had been alerted to the change in status.
ASWJ is a member organization of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, which has been organising rallies across the country. The Multan DPC rally was hosted by the ASWJ and was also attended by Malik Ishaq, the co-founder of banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s Information Secretary Anwar Niazi says they will condemn any attempt by the authorities to ban ASWJ. The political party is also a member of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council.
“Every time any such ban on a religious organisation occurs, it is either on the instructions of the US or given by pro-US elements in the government,” Niazi told The Express Tribune. He said the ASWJ were “all patriotic Pakistanis.”
Jamaatud Dawa spokesperson Yahya Mujahid issued a statement condemning the ban and said that it was an attempt to harass the Difa-e-Pakistan Council politically. “If there is any accusation against the ASWJ, it should be presented in the courts and this ban is without any evidence.”
Mujahid also said that the ASWJ had only been banned after the DPC began holding rallies for the defence of Pakistan and it was being done due to “external pressure.”
ASWJ is also allegedly known as the political wing of the banned militant outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba, known for its sectarian ideology and violence.
The secretariat in Lahore, Farooq-e-Azam, has also been host to addresses by several members of ASWJ and speakers affiliated with banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
During a conference on September 7, 2011, banners with the name of Sipah-e-Sahaba were put up on the walls of the secretariat and speeches inciting violence against the Shia community were given by the speakers.
Ludhianvi also went to the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, with armed ASWJ guards to receive Malik Ishaq on his release after imprisonment of more than a decade. Members of ASWJ had welcomed Ishaq and showered him with rose-petals at the jail’s gate.