LAHORE: In an effort to preempt sectarian strife in the province, the Punjab government has extended the detention period of leaders of banned outfit Lashkar-e- Jhangvi (LeJ), Malik Ishaq and Ghulam Rasool Shah, for another 60 days.
The extension orders, issued by the Punjab Home Department, follow law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ reports which warn of sectarian violence in the province if the leaders are released.
Ishaq and Shah have been imprisoned in Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalnagar, since September 22 and 25 respectively, under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance, sources familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune.
Orders for the extension, effective October 25, were issued on the request and recommendations of the respective district coordination officers as well as police officials.
Ishaq, the former operational chief of LeJ, was allegedly involved in 44 cases, in which 70 people, mostly belonging to the Shia community, were killed.
In jail since 1997, and a key suspect in the attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009, Ishaq was released on bail by the apex court on July 14 after the prosecution failed to prove his involvement in the attack.
Ishaq was acquitted in 34 out of 44 cases, while in the remaining 10 he had already been granted bail, official documents revealed.
Meanwhile Shah, who is a co-accused in some terrorism cases registered against Ishaq, had been in a Bahawalnagar jail since the last week of September 2011 under the MPO.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2011.