Home » Pakistan » LJ leader Malik Ishaq arrested in Rahim Yar Khan

malik-ishaqThe leader of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) has surrendered himself to authorities, police said on Friday, a week after the banned religious outfit claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing in Quetta killing over 90 people.

Senior police officer Ashfaq Gujar said Malik Ishaq was arrested from his residence at the Airport Road in the central city of Rahim Yar Khan on Friday. Gujar said Ishaq had been sent to a high-security jail for investigation.

It was not immediately clear on what charges he was arrested.

According to reports, Ishaq has been detained for a period of one month, although it could not be verified as police refrained from commenting on the charges of his arrest.

Speaking to reporters prior to his arrest, Ishaq said that he was the vice-president of the Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), and denied any involvement in the Quetta bombing or any such incident.

He said he would contest his arrest in court.

Ishaq is said to be one of the founders of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi group, which is accused of sectarian violence and has claimed several attacks on the ethnic Hazara Shia population in Balochistan.

Ishaq, who also belongs to the now defunct Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, was briefly detained last year on accusations of fanning sectarian hatred. He is also accused of masterminding an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

On Friday, Mahdi Hasan, a leader of Hazara Democratic Party, welcomed Ishaq’s arrest, but demanded the arrest of all others involved in the attacks.

More than 90 people, mostly Hazara Shias, lost their lives when a water tanker filled was detonated in a marketplace near Quetta’s Hazara Town on Feb 16. It was the year’s second deadly attack on the ethnic minority, with a Jan 10 bombing at a snooker club in the city killing over 100 people, also mostly Hazaras.

Both attacks were claimed by the LJ.

Ishaq’s arrest comes a day after the Pakistan Army emphatically denied it maintained any links with the banned terror outfit. “The armed forces were not in contact with any militant organisation, including Lashkar-i-Jhangvi,” ISPR chief Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa told a media briefing on Thursday.

“There is no reason to think about army’s involvement with LJ,” the Dawn newspaper quoted Gen Bajwa as saying.

Human rights organisations have accused the army and its intelligence agencies of maintaining links with Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

The allegations stem from the army using Ishaq for negotiating with the terrorists who had attacked the military headquarters in October 2009. Ishaq’s subsequent release from jail was sceptically seen as a deal. The escape of LJ’s operational commander in Balochistan, Usman Saifullah Kurd, in 2008 from a detention facility in the military Cantonment in Quetta has also raised questions.

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