Rehman Malik blames South Punjab outfits

Rana Tanveer/abdul Manan May 30, 2010

LAHORE: The perpetrators of the carnage against the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore belonged to the banned outfits based in South Punjab and were part of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and al Qaeda, Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed on Sunday.

Police have arrested four suspects from different cities of Punjab including Ferozwala.

During a visit at one of the places of worship of the Ahmadiyya community in Model Town – the scene of Friday’s bomb-and-gun attack – the minister claimed that terrorists belonging to South Punjab’s banned organisations “have come out in the open” and started targeting “innocent members of the minority communities.”

He said that the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, the Sipah-i-Sahaba and the Jaish-i-Muhammad are part of the TTP and al Qaeda, adding that the latter has “annexed” South Punjab’s banned organisations and “have spread their tentacles to Balochistan.” Malik said the federal government has defeated the terrorists in Swat and tribal areas of the country. “Now the defeated elements have started launching attacks with the help of proscribed outfits,” he added.

The minister said that the federal government has banned 29 religious organisations in the country so far of which 7 to 11 were founded in South Punjab. He said that these banned organizations, with the help of al Qaeda and TTP, have prepared a plan on how to destabilise the government. Promoting sectarianism and attacking members of the minority communities are part of this agenda, he added.

He said that al Qaeda and TTP have given the green light to the banned outfits to promote sectarian hatred in the country. Some 44 per cent of madrassahs are located in South Punjab.

He said five Wafaqul Madaris or umbrella bodies of seminaries existed in the country and the government has up to now registered 17,000 madrassahs out of a total of 20,000. “The government will constitute an authority to oversee these Wafaqul Madaris and review the courses of studies taught at the madrassahs,” claimed Malik.

He said that the Ahmadiyya community would be provided “foolproof security” and that the attack on Ahmadis’ places of worship was an incident which “could not be ignored.”

Malik said that legislation process would soon be completed to legally protect all the minorities in the country. The Punjab government is working against terrorism with the help of the federal government. “I would ask the Punjab government to publish the investigation report into the Gojra incident,” he promised.

However custodian of the Ahmadiyya community at Bait-ul-Noor, Col (r) Munawar, told The Express Tribune that interior minister’s visit at their worship place was “very disappointing.”

He said the minister met him and assured him foolproof security and promised medals to those Ahmadis who captured the suicide bombers and disarmed them. He said Malik has not satisfied the Ahmadiyya community.

Meanwhile, the President of Anjuman Ahmediyya Pakistan Mirza Ghulam Ahmed on Sunday said he was doubtful that investigations into Friday’s massacre would be fair, claiming the provincial government had not taken community members on board before determining how to proceed with the probe.

Mirza Ghulam Ahmed and Anjuman Ahmediyya General Secretary Ghalib Ahmed Raja were addressing a press conference at Darul Zikr, their Garhi Shahu place of worship.

“Wasn’t it the government’s duty to protect us?” asked Ahmed, adding that the Ahmadis faced persecution at every level of society. He stated that the lives of Ahmadis are in constant danger in Pakistan, adding that violent acts against the Ahmadiyya community enjoyed ‘legal sanction.’

A message from the Head of the Ahmediyya Community Mirza Masroor Ahmed was also circulated at the conference.

“No true Muslim could ever approve of such attacks, such cruelty and such barbaric behavior,” the leader said in his message.

Ahmadiyya community spokesperson Saleemud Din also spoke to journalists on Sunday, and denied reports that Friday’s attacks may have been a result of an internal dispute. He said the rumours were lies fabricated to divert security officials’ attempts to investigate the massacre.

He said the reports had been spread by those who had connections with hard-line militant organisations.

The spokesperson said it was time for the government to either openly declare that it will allow Ahmadis to be persecuted, or put an end to violence against the community forever.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 31st, 2010.


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