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Malek talks tough on Ishaq

LeJ leader may have left the country after his release from prison

Gulf News

Karachi: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malek on Monday accused the Punjab government of facilitating the ‘mysterious’ escape of a sectarian leader and vowed to bring those responsible to book.

During a conversation with the media, Malek said: “Malek Ishaq has been missing overnight and it seems that he has gone out of the country.”

Ishaq, the founding member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), has been under scrutiny for alleged attacks on Shiites.

The LeJ had claimed responsibility for the recent attacks on Shiites, including the February 16 attack in which 90 people, mostly Shiites from the Hazara community in Quetta, were killed.

In January LeJ were also blamed for a deadlier attack on Shiites in Quetta after a snooker club was bombed killing 100 people that led to the sacking of the provincial government of Balochistan, the western province of Pakistan.

Ishaq was set free in 2011 after serving 14 years in jail awaiting trial for the murder of more than 70 people.

The prosecution failed to prove any charges against Ishaq and thus he was released from jail but put on probation so police could track his whereabouts.

“I have constituted an inquiry into how he managed to escape and would arrest whoever is involved in his escape,” Malek told the media.

Malek said that he was thinking of setting up a commission to probe Ishaq’s escape as those on probation are not eligible to leave the country without informing the police.

The Punjab government last week said Ishaq was detained for a month under maintenance of public order (MPO) clause of the law.

Senator Pervez Rashid, the spokesman of the Punjab government also confirmed his detention.

“Who facilitate Ishaq in the Punjab province to protect him,” Malek remarked implying connivance of Ishaq with the Punjab government, ruled by the Pakistan Muslim League.