Leader of a banned outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Malik Ishaq (c) – File Photo by AP

LAHORE: Pakistan on Thursday arrested the head of a banned Sunni extremist group accused of inciting sectarian hatred and masterminding an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009, police said.

Malik Ishaq, leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) which is said to have links to al Qaeda, was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore after his return from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, police spokeswoman Nabila Ghazanfar said.

“I can confirm his arrest,” she said, adding that Ishaq will be produced in a local court on Friday.

Police had registered a case against him after his “provocative speech to spread sectarian hatred” at a religious gathering in Lahore earlier this month, police official Liaquat Ali said.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, regarded as Pakistan's fiercest Sunni extremist group, was banned more than a decade ago by former president Gen Pervez Musharraf.

It is accused of killing hundreds of minority Shia Muslims after its emergence in the early 1990s.

Ishaq was arrested in 1997 and is implicated in dozens of cases, mostly murder. He was released on bail in July last year after serving a jail term of nearly 14 years.

Since his release he had been frequently put under house arrest as his sermons raised sectarian tensions, officials said.

Ishaq was also accused of masterminding, from behind bars, the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, which wounded seven players and an assistant coach, and killed eight Pakistanis.

The attacks saw Pakistan stripped of its right to co-host last year's cricket World Cup.

Opinion

Editorial

Slow start
Updated 15 Jun, 2024

Slow start

Despite high attendance, the NA managed to pass only a single money bill during this period.
Sindh lawlessness
Updated 15 Jun, 2024

Sindh lawlessness

A recently released report describes the law and order situation in Karachi as “worryingly poor”.
Punjab budget
15 Jun, 2024

Punjab budget

PUNJAB’S budget for 2024-25 provides much fodder to those who believe that the increased provincial share from the...
Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...