Outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat leader Ahmed Ludhianvi played a cat-and-mouse game for almost six hours with police and paramilitary forces who were trying to prevent them from entering the Pakistani capital.
Despite an order barring their entry into Islamabad,Saeed and Ludhianvi sneaked into the city yesterday and joined a rally organised by the Defa-e-Pakistan Council to pressure the government not to reopen NATO supply routes which were shut down last year.
While Saeed was able to address a gathering of thousands of members of hardline and extremist groups at a short distance from parliament,Ludhianvi was unable to speak due to pressure from the security forces.
The capital’s “security apparatus” proved no match for Saeed and Ludhianvi,the Dawn newspaper reported.
“They appeared and disappeared; were stopped and freed; intercepted in their cars and protected by their armed guards,as crowds gathered to watch the spectacle and traffic jams ensued,” the report said.
“Eventually the harassed,red-faced and embarrassed policemen managed to hold Maulana Ludhianvi,only after negotiations,while Saeed escaped,” it added. Ludhianvi was taken to a police station in the industrial area on the outskirts of Islamabad and a case was registered against on the complaint of a police officer.
Within minutes,however,the city administration granted him bail. At this point Interior Minister Rehman Malik intervened and blocked the bail.
Ludhianvi’s Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) is considered a front for the Sipah-e-Sahaba,a notorious sectarian group linked to several recent attacks on Shias.
Saeed and Ludhianvi both came to the Parade Ground near parliament to join the protest by Defa-e-Pakistan Council. On learning that police were going to arrest them,both leaders left the ground. The head of the Secretariat police station later intercepted Ludhianvi and said police were arresting him in connection with a case registered at Margalla police station. Ludhianvi demanded the warrant for his arrest.
When police failed to produce the warrant,ASWJ activists took their leader away in a SUV. Policemen at check points and patrol vehicles were alerted. Police also blocked roads to intercept Ludhianvi.
As a result,hundreds of vehicles were stuck in a traffic jam on the highway connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
At around 6 pm,Ludhianvi’s SUV was spotted in the traffic. Police then set up further blockades and senior officers were called to the site with a contingent of the Anti-Terrorism Squad.
Ironically,police guards provided to Ludhianvi by the Punjab government aimed their weapons at the Islamabad police while ASWJ activists cordoned their leader’s vehicle.
Though Ludhianvi’s vehicle was able to evade the police,it was again intercepted on I J Principal Road.
Senior officials conducted negotiations with former military ruler Zia-ul-Haq’s son Ijaz-ul-Haq,ASWJ leader Fazlur Rehman Khalil and Abdullah Gul,son of former ISI chief Hamid Gul,and took Ludhianvi to the police station.