Future of Sectarianism in Pakistan?

SSP using new platform to fan sectarian hatred
* Intelligence officials believe sectarian violence may return to country
By Shahnawaz Khan, Daily Times, May 14, 2008

LAHORE: Intelligence officials have forwarded a report to top officials saying that the banned organisation, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was working under the banner of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) to fan sectarian hatred in society, intelligence officials told Daily Times on Tuesday.

The report said that the ASWJ had the same flag as the SSP, the same slogans and pretty much the same leadership. The intelligence officers said that the ASWJ had started its activities from Sindh where it had recently held a large public meeting. The organisation’s leaders then issued orders to their activists to hold public meetings and conferences across the country.

A few weeks earlier, the ASWJ held a large public meeting in Sargodha, after which Sargodha police registered cases against Alam Tariq, Masud Rehman Usmani and several others for speeches inciting sectarian hatred. Another large meeting has been announced on May 14 (today) in Abbotabad.

The officers said that intelligence officers also found information concerning the ASWJ activists’ secret meetings in the recent past. Following this information, the agencies have ordered their personnel to monitor the activities of the main suspects and to prepare a strategy to stop them.

The intelligence reports stated that sectarian violence might return to the country if the activities of ASWJ and other militant organisations were not checked soon.

The report said that several of the organisations had recently held secret meetings. It said that about 350 detained activists of banned organisations had been released from various jails of the country in the last couple of years. However, the law enforcement agencies lost track of many of these released criminals. Several of them have returned and are working again to fan sectarianism and carry out terrorist activities in the country, the report said.

The report added that the death anniversaries of sahaba (Prophet Muhammad’s companions) were not being commemorated for six years, but the ASWJ has planned to commemorate the death anniversary of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq next month. This is expected to get ‘a reaction’ from another sect and would lead to a fresh wave of sectarian violence, intelligence officers believed.

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