ASWJ Openly Practices Hate Speech Against Shias In Karachi Gathering
Sectarian terror outfit Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), an offshoot of Sipah Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), held a grand public gathering in Site Town area of Karachi on November 7 where hate speech against the Shia community was practiced openly.
During a speech of ASWJ leader Masoor Ur Rehman Usmani, people amongst the crowd chanted hateful slogans against the Shia community, declaring them infidel.
Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), a sunni extremist outfit, had first been banned in 2002 by the then president General (r) Pervez Musharraf under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
According to a report in BBC, in 2012, the Pakistan People’s Party-led government again banned the organisation, for what it said was due to concerns of terrorism.
In 2015, the government of Pakistan established the National Action Plan, which delineated a systematic way in which terrorism would be eliminated from the country.
The plan included measures to, inter alia, check hate speech, cut sources of funding of terror outfits, and disallowing banned outfits to operate under different names.
Unfortunately, groups like the SSP have managed to do everything the NAP intended to prohibit them from. Hate speech is freely practiced in their gatherings while the groups collect funding through charity organisations. Moreover, banned outfits frequently change names in order to operate freely. In the case of SSP, the ASWJ was formed as a political wing of the former, an act that allowed SSP’s members to continue their activities under the guise of politics.
In 2018, a month before the general elections, the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA), the same body which the government had promised to make more effective in light of NAP 2015, issued a notification to unfreeze the assets of ASWJ chief Ahmed Ludhianvi and also removed the ban on the organisation.
Many have said that the state’s attempts to deal with these groups serves no purpose as they carry on with their activities by changing their names or operating through proxies.
Moreover, observers have argued that no matter what the state does to make these groups tone down their extremist rhetoric, including attempts to mainstream them by giving them a channel of expression in the political arena, has served no purpose as violence was the essence of these groups.
Many have also argued that attempts to allow these groups to operate through legal channels would give them a larger platform for their activities, allowing them to proliferate across the society.