by Zia Ur Rehman
July 9, 2015
The otherwise clamouring Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) is maintaining an unusual silence on the arrest of its central president, Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi, observers say.
Police arrested Farooqi near Taxila on June 5 when he was going with his party workers to the Mansehra district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on a personal trip, according to ASWJ leaders in Karachi.
Farooqi had attended a rally in Murree a day earlier, following which a First Information Report was registered against him at a police station in Rawalpindi.
Media reports citing police suggest that the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) has registered a case against Farooqi, who has been booked in more than a dozen other cases in different police stations across the province.
On June 30, an anti-terrorism court handed him over to the Lahore police for two days.
Observers who monitor religious parties’ activities are curious about the group’s strange calm over the arrest of its central leader.
“We did not see a remarkable protest against his arrest even in Karachi, a city from where he heads the party and is the most popular among his party cadre,” says a Karachi-based journalist who covers the ASWJ extensively.
“The group used to organise huge protests on the arrest of any of its local leaders in the city, but this time their silence is strange.”
Brought up and studied in Karachi, Farooqi originally belongs to the Mansehra district. He was recently promoted to the position of the ASWJ’s central president. Before this, he served as the group’s central secretary information and Karachi president.
With a low margin of votes, he was defeated in the 2013 general election in Karachi’s PS-128 constituency by a Muttahida Qaumi Movement candidate.
However, Umer Mawaia, spokesperson for the ASWJ Karachi chapter, denying such notions, said on Tuesday the party had organised protests across the country, including Karachi.
“In fact, we have been busy for his release along with our legal team. Also, there is the holy month of Ramazan. We hope Farooqi will be released before the Eid,” Mawaia told The News.
He maintained that the group had organised demonstrations for Farooqi’s release outside the Karachi Press Club, at Nagan Chowrangi and in all six districts of the city after his arrest.
Some observers are of view that the ASWJ’s policy is not to pressure the Punjab government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which allegedly enjoys a good relationship with the ASWJ leadership.
However, the Punjab police said that Farooqi was arrested because of sensitivity surrounding recent sectarian incidents in Rawalpindi. The group’s parton-in-chief, Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhyanvi, was recently barred from entering Islamabad.
Similarly, law enforcement agencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had stopped Farooqi from entering the Hangu district a few months ago.