RE Hundreds of supporters showered rose-petals and chanted slogans in favour of Malik Muhammad Ishaq, founding member of the banned outfit Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ), as he came out from the Kot Lakhpat jail after spending 14-years in imprisonment here on Thursday.
Malik Ishaq was currently being accused of planning attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Liberty intersection in 2009.
Religious leaders including Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, Tahir Ashrafi, and Shamas Moavia greeted Malik Ishaq outside the main entrance of jail, where hundreds of his other supporters, a few of them on four-wheel drives, were also waiting for his release. They also chanted slogans in his favour and announced to continue their mission to protect the honour of the Sahaba- , while terming his detention as illegal.
Eyewitnesses said Maulana Ludhianvi, the head of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), reached outside the jail along with his several armed guards and supporters to receive his longtime associate, Ishaq. They also presented Ishaq garlands and distributed sweets to people present there.
Maulana Ludhianvi told reporters they had followed the law of the land to secure the release of Ishaq, who was seen smiling among his supporters.
Malik Ishaq had been arrested in 1997 on the charges of terrorism and multiple sectarian killings. The police registered no less than 44 cases including multiple sectarian killings and terrorism against him but he was acquitted in almost all such cases due to lack of evidences and poor prosecution. Currently, Malik Ishaq was being detained in prison allegedly for planning the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on the statement of one of the suspects, Zubair Maitla. The authorities released him from the jail on Thursday afternoon following the Supreme Court of Pakistan granted him bail.
The SCs division bench comprising Justice MA Shahid Siddiqui and Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had reprimanded the prosecution for failing to establish its case and destroying evidence. The bench had observed that the prosecution produced only two witnesses who stated before the court that they had heard a conversation among some people at a public place that the terrorists planned the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team to secure the release of Ishaq. His counsel, Qazi Misbahul Hassan, argued that his client had been imprisoned for over 12 years and the prosecution had failed to produce any sound evidence against his client. Malik Ishaq was imprisoned when he was accused of plotting the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
As part of the strategy of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, the LJ was established in the mid-1990s and the organisation was accused of carrying out several sectarian killings. In recent years, the government blamed the LJ for several suicide bombings that took place across the country. The LJs early leaders were Riaz Basra, Akram Lahori and Malik Ishaq. Following the killings of Riaz Basra and Akram Lahori in police encounters, now Malik Ishaq is the head of the LJ, named after its leader Haq Nawaz Jhangvi.