Members of the Difah-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) hold hands at a rally in —Reuters (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: According to a document dated February 15, the Government of Pakistan has banned the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ), the religious organisation known previously to be operating as the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), the BBC reported early on Saturday.

The document, which the BBC describes as a notification issued by the Interior Ministry that was not publicly announced, claims that the ASWJ was suspected to be involved in acts of terrorism in the country, therefore it was being added to the first schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The notification by the federal ministry was sent to all provincial governments and concerned departments, claims the report.

The report further claims that Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s office had been contacted for a comment on the ban, but to no avail.

The ASWJ is led by its president Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, and is a key part of the Difa-i-Pakistan, or Defence of Pakistan, Council (DPC), a coalition of around 40 religious and ultra-nationalist parties.

Shouting "death to America" at a rally in Karachi last month, members of the DPC condemned US drone attacks and military operations in tribal areas, and warned the government against restoring Nato supply routes and granting MFN (most favoured nation) status to India.

Ludhianvi, when contacted, said that he was unaware of any such ban, adds the report.

"We are a peaceful organisation," Ludhianvi was quoted as saying. "If anyone places a ban on us…they are trying to place a ban on Pakistan."

The ASWJ was formed after the government of former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf banned a handful of religious parties, including the Sipah-e-Sahaba in 2002.

The Lashkar-e-Jhangwi (LeJ), another splinter group of the Sipah-e-Sahaba led by Hafiz Saeed, has also allegedly been involved in terrorist acts, and is reported to have links with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as well.

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