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February 7, 2014

Malik Ishaq included in most wanted list by US


February 7, 2014

ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, the US State Department has reviewed and maintained the Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) designation of the banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), in accordance with Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

According to the US State Department press release, one of the co-founders of the anti-US Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), Malik Ishaq, who is also the vice president of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) led by Mohammad Ahmed Ahmed Ludhianvi, was declared most wanted and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.

The State Department press release issued late, Thursday night stated that Ishaq had been tagged as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.The consequences of this designation include a prohibition against US persons engaging in transactions with Malik Ishaq, and freezing of all property and interests of Malik Ishaq that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the possession or control of the US persons.

Currently languishing in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, Ishaq was arrested on February 25, 2013 from his home in Rahimyar Khan on charges of having his hands tainted with the blood of 200-plus Hazaras in Quetta who lost their lives in two separate incidents of suicide bombings. He was subsequently shifted to the Lahore jail on March 19, 2013 amid tight security on the directives of the Punjab government.

As per the State Department press release, “Ishaq had admitted in 1997 his involvement in terrorist activity that resulted in the deaths of over 100 Pakistanis. More recently, in February 2013, Pakistani police arrested Malik Ishaq in connection with attacks on January 10 and February 16, 2013 in Quetta, that killed nearly 200 civilians. LJ claimed responsibility for the Quetta bombings.

The Lashkar specialises in armed attacks and bombings and has admitted responsibility for numerous killings of religious and civil society

leaders in Pakistan. LJ claimed The responsibility for a 2013 attack in a crowded billiards hall in Quetta that resulted in the deaths of 80 persons.

As a result of maintaining the FTO designation, the legal consequences of the designation remain in place, including the prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to LJ, and the freezing of all LJ assets under the control or possession of US financial institutions. The State Department took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury.

Interestingly, the Government of Punjab has admitted paying a monthly stipend to the family of Malik Ishaq while he was behind the bars and being tried for committing 100-plus murders.

It may be recalled that the PML-N and ASWJ had jointly contested a by-election on a Punjab Assembly seat from Jhang in March 2010, and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had openly campaigned for the PML-N candidate along with Maulana Ludhianvi.

The law enforcement agencies had collected credible evidence after the 2013 Quetta suicide attacks suggesting that the leadership of the Quetta chapter of Lashkar, especially Usman Saifullah Kurd and Shafiqur Rehman Kurd, were being string-pulled by Ishaq before these bombings.

Malik Ishaq was released on bail by the Supreme Court in July 2011. Two months after his release, he was placed under house arrest in Rahim Yar Khan under MPO [on Sept 22, 2011]. He was detained 24 hours after the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the killing of 29 pilgrims in Mastung area of Balochistan. Ishaq was detained for one month to pre-empt violence because his release had instantly caused tensions because of the sermons he started delivering soon after his release.

In December 2011, the provincial review board agreed to extend the detention period for another 30 days.

However, the Lahore High Court (LHC) finally released him on January 20, 2012. Malik Ishaq was again detained on August 30, 2012 from the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, upon his return from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah. He was sent on a 14-day judicial remand the next day on charge of delivering hate speeches. However, he was set free hardly 12 days later as an additional district and sessions judge Lahore granted him bail on September 10, 2012. And only a week after his release, Ishaq was given the slot of the vice president in the ASWJ, as announced by its president Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi on September 18, 2012.