While reports regarding a possible ban on the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) have created panic within the group, conflicting information from the interior ministry continues to raise eyebrows.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has denied the existence of a notification banning the ASWJ, a reorganised version of outlawed extremist group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), while sources in the interior ministry have, in fact, confirmed the ban.
Sources confirmed the ban on ASWJ on the basis of its involvement in terror activities, sectarian violence and anti-state activities.
An interior ministry official, familiar with the matter, told The Express Tribune that the notification was issued in the third week of February by interior ministry’s political section on the basis of intelligence agencies’ reports.
ASWJ Media Coordinator Ubaidulah Usmani also confirmed the existence of such a notification but said that it was prepared for barring the entry and participation of ASWJ chief Allama Ahmad Ludhianvi at a sit-in under the banner of Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) on February 18.
He claimed that the notification would be used by the Islamabad administration in case Ludhianvi participated in the DPC rally. Usmani, however, added that he “considers it as just a piece of paper”.
Following the publication in certain sections of the media of a report on the ban, the interior minister denied the existence of any such notification and assured Ludhianvi that action would be taken against those responsible for creating panic.
Formally, the interior ministry sends all notifications/circulars to provincial home departments, provincial police chiefs, provincial heads of other law-enforcement agencies, joint directors general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of all provinces, and sector commanders of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) for information and necessary legal action. However, a notification for the ban on ASWJ has not been circulated among these offices, according to their records.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2012.