LAHORE, April 4: The Sunni Ittehad Council alleged on Monday that “factories” of suicide bombers are operating in south Punjab and demanded that the government crack down on them.

The demand came at a press conference held by council chairman Sahibzada Fazle Karim.

Mr Karim, also a Pakistan Muslim League-N MNA from Faisalabad, also demanded open trial of an alleged terrorist who was arrested at the shrine of Sakhi Sarwar on Sunday so that the public came to know how many people were arrested but were not tried.

He asked the authorities to use full force against militants “before it is too late”. He alleged that there were supporters of militants in various state institutions and the rulers should resign if they could not remove them.

The chairman of the council, a conglomerate of 20 groups of Barelvi school of thought, demanded that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani convene an All-Party Conference on the one-point agenda of protecting the holy shrines and establishing a special security force for the purpose.

He alleged the attacks on holy shrines were part of an international conspiracy to provoke sectarianism in the country. He said some forces wanted to destabilise the country by attacking peaceful gatherings as the militants were fanning anarchy in the name of jihad.

He announced that the council would hold an “Istehkam-e-Pakistan Sunni Conference” at Minar-i-Pakistan on April 17 to be attended by delegates from 45 Muslim countries.

He also announced observing Friday (April 8) as Condemnation Day against the anti-Islam activities and brutal carnages at holy shrines.

Asked if they (the Barelvi school of thought) condemn the twin attempts at Maulana Fazlur Rehman (leader of the Deobandi school of thought of which the so-called Taliban belong to), he said: “We condemn acts of terrorism wherever and on whosoever they are conducted.”

Also, the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan-Noorani staged a protest demonstration outside the Lahore Press Club against the twin suicide hits at the shrine of Hazrat Sakhi Sarwar in Dera Ghazi Khan on Sunday.

Led by Naseer Ahmed Noorani and others, the demonstrators demanded that the rulers resign if they could not control law and order in the country.

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