Thousands of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ) workers on Friday joined a procession at the Lower Mall and held a conference on the road after several activists were arrested from Nasser Bagh, the scheduled venue for the conference.
Most of the ASWJ leaders and workers had been members of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan until it was banned. The party had scheduled a Difa-i-Sahaba and Difa-i-Pakistan Conference at Nasser Bagh on Friday at 11am. However, a police contingent had been deployed outside the venue to stop them from entering.
The police had arrested nearly 200 activists at Istanbul Chowk by 2pm. Policemen in civilian clothes and uniforms stopped many bearded men and asked them if they were ASWJ members.
The ASWJ then took out a procession from Out Fall Road and Ravi Road to the Lower Mall near Government College University. Around 3,000 ASWJ activists chanted slogans against Shiites and the government.
ASWJ activists, some of them brandishing sticks and carrying flags, assembled at Nasser Bagh’s main gate on the Lower Mall and held the conference using a van as the stage.
The proceedings began with speeches by some local leaders. Later, Muhammad Muavia Azam Tariq, Maulana Ashraf Taib, Pir Saifullah Khalid and Maulana Muhammad Aurangzeb Farooqi, from Karachi, delivered fiery speeches. The conference ended with a speech by ASWJ Chief Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi.
The Lower Mall resonated with slogans against Shiites throughout the conference proceedings. Traffic there was suspended for four hours for the duration of the conference.
“We are peaceful people,” said Ludhianvi, “The government’s hateful policies against us force us to adopt an aggressive stance.”
He said that he would continue his speech till all the ASWJ workers, who had been arrested, were released. “We can enter Nasser Bagh if we want to. No one can deny us our right,” he said, “We just don’t want to take the law into our hands.”
Ludhianvi said that the ASWJ had organised the conference to pay tribute to the 1965 war’s martyrs. He regretted that they had been stopped. The ASWJ would never abandon the defence of the Sahaba or of Pakistan, he said.
The ASWJ chief criticised the prime minister for not taking the organisation on board in his meetings to decide how to deal with terrorism in Karachi. “There is peace in Karachi because of the ASWJ,” he said, “Why has the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz branded us terrorists and allied itself with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement?”
He said that the ASWJ would support an impartial operation in Karachi.
The organisation will hold a public meeting at Nasser Bagh next year, Ludhianvi said. The government must arrest those who killed ASJW activists otherwise they would organise a sit-in in front of the Parliament House on October 4. He concluded his speech saying that he had received information that all the activists who had been arrested earlier had been released.
Maulana Muhammad Muavia Azam Tariq said that by stopping them from holding a conference at Nasser Bagh, the government had caused them to organise a rally.
“Shiites are Pakistan’s enemies,” he said, “All business centres shut down when they hold their Muharram processions.” He said that the ASWJ would ensure punishment for those who blasphemed against Hazrat Abu Bakar.
Muhammad Jameel Muavia said that the government facilitated Shiites by providing them guarded roads and tight security for processions, but the ASWJ was stopped. That is discrimination, he said.
“Why does the government only award the Nishan-i-Haider?” said Maulana Masoodur Rehman Usmani, “We want awards in the names of Abu Bakar, Umar, Usman and Ameer Muavia as well.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2013.