We at LUBP proudly present to our readers the latest specimen of good governance of PML-N’s government in Punjab.
Residents of Jhang (central Punjab) are currently experiencing an incredible surge in the presence and public activities of Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned terrorist organization with close links with Al Qaeda and Taliban. The Sipah-e-Sahba has recently forged an election alliance with Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N.
However, before we present the video of a Sipah-e-Sahaba rally in Jhang, here is some background information on Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, chief of the (outlawed) Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.
We start with this 2008 report by Reuters profiling Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi:
Militant chief has eye on Pakistani parliament seat
Feb 16, 2008
(Reuters) – The leader of a banned Pakistani militant group is standing in next week’s general election and says he will fight for the reinstatement of his group if he wins a seat in parliament.
Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, head of the outlawed Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan, has a good chance of winning a seat on Monday in the town of Jhang in a poor farming district in Punjab province that has been a group stronghold for years.
“This is our seat and we’ll win it. No one can snatch this seat from us,” the bearded cleric told Reuters in an interview at a supporter’s house in Jhang as his heavily armed guards looked on.
Millat-e-Islamia, or Nation of Islam, was formed in 2002 by members of the notorious Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a Sunni Muslim organization that was for years involved in tit-for-tat killings with militants from the minority Shi’ite Muslim sect.
President Pervez Musharraf banned the Sipah-e-Sahaba and several other militant groups in January 2002 after joining the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism following the September 11 attacks on the United States.
The U.S. also put the Sipah-e-Sahaba on its watch list of terrorist groups.
Its supporters regrouped with a new name but Musharraf, under pressure from the United States to tackle militants, banned Millat-e-Islamia in 2003.
Ludhianvi, who is running for parliament as an independent candidate, denied that his supporters were involved in militancy. “Sipah-e-Sahaba and Millat-e-Islamia have never had any link with terrorist activities. We’ve always distanced ourselves from terrorism,” he said.
“As far as the ban on my party is concerned, I think it was a repressive act,” Ludhianvi said. He said he was fighting the ban in the court and would also make his case in the National Assembly.
“After winning, I will raise my voice for the reinstatement of my party in parliament,” he said.
Election Commission officials say Ludhianvi could not be prevented from taking part in the election unless a complaint was lodged against his candidacy.
Ludhianvi’s main rival in the election is Sheikh Waqas Ahmed, a candidate for the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League who ridiculed the government crackdown on militancy, saying it was a show put on for the West.
“It’s just a gimmick,” he said.
“They tell the goras (Westerners) that they are eliminating terrorism and extremism but the organizations banned for extremism are operating freely,” Ahmed said, pointing out the flags of the Millat-e-Islamia fluttering across the town.
Ludhianvi’s predecessor as head of the militant group, Azam Tariq, contested the last general election, in 2002, while he was in jail and had won the vote.
In parliament, after he was released from jail, he backed a pro-Musharraf coalition but the firebrand pro-Taliban cleric was gunned down on the outskirts of the capital, Islamabad, in 2003.
His supporters blamed rival Shi’ites for the killing.
Pakistan’s most feared militant group, the al Qaeda-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a splinter group of the Sipah-e-Sahaba.
In his detailed analysis (2009) of terrorist cells in South Punjab, Amir Mir notes that:
The two organisations of Punjabi and Pashtun Taliban reportedly share a Sunni-Deobandi ideology and a common objective to wage jihad against the Pakistan Army which is siding with the forces of the infidel in the ongoing war against terror.
Much before the TTP henchmen targeted the GHQ building the Pakistani intelligence agencies had informed the government that some of the southern Punjab-based banned militant-cum-sectarian groups were gaining military strength, especially after joining hands with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. As per the intelligence information, several activists of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and the Harkatul Jihadul Islami (HUJI), who had taken part in the Afghan jihad, have tied up with the TTP to carry out terrorist operations against important government and security installations. The facilitators of the terrorists who targeted the provincial headquarters of the Inter Services Intelligence and the Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore recently, besides attacking the training facilities of the Punjab police as well as the Sri Lankan cricket team were all Punjabi Taliban.
Despite reports regarding the existence of Tehrik-e-Taliban Punjab, analysts say the existing network of the Punjabi Taliban lacks any organisation or command structure and operates as a loose network of elements from distinct jihadi and sectarian organisations, including Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) led by Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) currently led by Qari Mohammad Zafar, Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) led by Maulana Masood Azhar, Jamaatul Furqan, the splinter group of the Jaish, led by Maulana Abdul Jabbar and both the Azad Kashmir and the Pakistan chapters of the Harkatul Jihadul Islami (HUJI), led by Commander Ilyas Kashmiri and Qari Saifullah Akhtar respectively. They further believe that the purpose of undertaking terrorist operations under the name of the Punjabi Taliban is to have the freedom to operate without the level of command and control inherent when working for the more established militant outfits.
Mr Sanaullah was on a by-election campaign for a provincial assembly seat in Jhang, but it cannot be said with certainty if he paid a visit to the seminary for electoral purposes or deep-rooted extremist linkages. Even if it was for purely electoral purposes, should the law minister have taken along a sectarian leader with him on an election campaign?
Obviously, the answer is no. Even if it was only for purely electoral purposes, this is unacceptable because it gives some false authority to SSP as a legitimate organization when it is clearly not one. Actually, not only is this organization banned but it is known to be a principal ally to militant groups that are attacking and killing our innocents.
According to a report, ‘Pakistan: The Militant Jihadi Challenge’ by the International Crisis Group published in 2009, “The recent upsurge of jihadi violence in Punjab…demonstrates the threat extremist Sunni-Deobandi groups pose to the Pakistani citizen and state…Punjab-based radical Deobandi groups like the SSP and its offshoot Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) provide weapons, recruits, finances and other resources to Pakistani Taliban groups…The SSP and LJ are also al Qaeda’s principal allies in the region.”
Rana Sanaullah should have not contact with groups like SSP except as working to forever remove their menace from Pakistan’s soil. That a government official would be conspiring with the enemy – even in looks only – is beyond understanding.
The Punjab government has long been in denial over the presence of terror outfits in Punjab, particularly South Punjab. The audacity of the PML-N to call itself a ‘progressive’ party — at best, it is a centre-right party — when it is pursuing such policies should serve as a wake up call for the people of Pakistan. If we want to rid our country of extremist ideology, our lawmakers should set an example instead of giving official patronage to terror outfits. An appeal to the Punjab government: stop living in denial and take effective measures to make our country safe from extremist elements.
Finally we present two video clips.
In the first clip, MNA Sheikh Waqas Akram explains his objections on the PML-N’s alliance with Sipah-e-Sahaba.
In the second video, we present a recent public rally by the Sipah-e-Sahaba in Jhang, facilitated by the PML-N’s government in Punjab. The rally was characterised by a public display of illegal arms and the Sipah-e-Sahaba style slogans declaring Shia Muslims as infidels.
If you visit the Youtube URL of the above video, its intro (in the left margin) says: zinda hai jhangvi (kafir kafir shia kafir). That says it all.
Shame on you, Nawaz Sharif. In the past, you were funded and supported by Osama Bin Laden. You still have incessant connections with sectarian and jihadi terrorists.