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February 25, 2013

Defunct SSP chief confirms talks with PML-N

February 25, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The cat is finally out of the bag. What was vehemently being refuted by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has actually been confirmed by none other than the chief of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ — defunct Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan-SSP) Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, saying the PML-N was in talks with him for seat adjustments in the general elections.
In an exclusive telephonic conversation with The News on Sunday, Maulana Ludhianvi said he was holding talks with several political parties, especially the PML-N which had previously won the 2010 Jhang by-election with the support of the ASWJ.
He said his party would prefer making election alliances or seat adjustments with those parties which are close to their ideology and believe in protecting the ideology of Pakistan.
When pointed out that the PML-N spokesman Senator Pervez Rasheed has strongly refuted recent media reports about an agreement on seat adjustments between his party and the ASWJ, Maulana Ludhianvi observed: “What can I say. They are in fact weak people who can’t stand up to pressures. They apparently lack the ability to stay firm in difficult times. And it is convenient for them to change their stance under the changing circumstances”.
Interestingly, while strongly refuting a new report filed by this scribe about a possible deal between the PML-N and the ASWJ on seat adjustments in South Punjab for the upcoming elections, Pervez Rasheed had stated that the PML-N was a popular party and does not need the support of any extremist or sectarian group to win the polls. “The PML-N does not need to adjust the candidates of any extremist party or sectarian group by ignoring its own candidates. The Punjab government has never supported any group or organization on sectarian basis and has rather been firm in maintenance of sectarian harmony”, Pervez had added.
Asked if he had lodged protest with the PML-N leadership over the stance taken by the PML-N spokesman, Maulana

Ludhianvi said he would definitely do so when he meets them. Asked if his party would still prefer making seat adjustments with the PML-N in the upcoming elections in South Punjab, Maulana Ludhianvi said: “They were the ones to have sought our support to win elections and by-elections in the past and we will take a decision on the issue when the time comes while keeping in view their position at that time”.
However, it seems that early media reports have torpedoed a formal seat adjustments deal between the PML-N and ASWJ for the time being, although the PML-N leaders still deny having seat adjustments talks with the ASWJ. It was after these media reports and the subsequent pressure created by the federal government and the establishment that the Punjab government was compelled to detain Malik Ishaq, the vice president of the ASWJ and a co-founder of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. However, Maulana Ludhianvi insists that his party has nothing to do with the LJ or SSP. He also confirmed media reports that he had held meetings with Ishaq on the request of the Shahbaz government to make an offer that he would be set free provided he gives a commitment to remain non-violent for the rest of his life. But he added that Ishaq was eventually released on the court orders because of lack of evidence.
While the ASWJ is holding protest rallies in Jhang and Rahim Yar Khan against the “uncalled for” arrest of Ishaq, the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) has demanded that he must be brought to justice and punished for masterminding the recent massacres of the Shia Hazaras in Quetta. Although Ishaq has been detained, the HDP president Abdul Khaliq Hazara says that his detention is a face saving exercise by the PML-N government to ease off the pressure and he will be set free shortly, as had always been the case in the past.

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