LAHORE: The Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat is unlikely to react to the killing of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi founder Malik Ishaq along with his two sons in a mysterious police encounter for the party is not ready to own the slain militant.

“As we are a peace-loving party, we cannot own a person with militant background so there is no question of protesting on roads against the death of Malik Ishaq and others in a mysterious encounter,” an ASWJ leader said requesting not to be named.

“We’ll surely condemn the incident demanding that a legal course should have been adopted if there were cases against the slain leader but not more than this since the situation is not conducive to take to streets.”

The party also lacked street power at present as religious schools, the constituency of the ASWJ, are closed these days, he added.

Malik Ishaq, who was killed during protective police custody in Muzaffargarh on Wednesday, was a controversial leader even within his own party. He had parted ways with the defunct Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) after differences on how to treat a certain religious sect and formed his own group, defunct Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

The ASWJ, currently led by Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, emerged after the SSP was banned and some well-wishers of the two groups attempted to unite them under one umbrella. Malik Ishaq was made vice-president of the outfit.

He was removed from the office within months after he was jailed again.

His group contested intra-party polls but lost badly to the Ludhianvi group, which supported legal ways and means for countering a rival sect. In the last elections, for example, for Punjab chapter president his nominee and Maulana Azam Tariq’s son could not get more than a dozen votes against 1,200 of the rival group’s Shamsur Rehman, who was shot dead in Lahore some months ago.

Sources said that Malik Ishaq did not spare even leaders of his own sect for keeping control over the party, which continued to slip out of his hands because of his long imprisonment.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2015

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