Lahore: At a time when the Pakistan government has asked Islamic clerics to create harmony in the wake of sectarian clashes that left 11 dead in Rawalpindi, two hardline religious parties have pledged to take "revenge" for the recent killings.
The Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ), considered a front for the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-S (JUI-S) have said they will take "revenge on their own" against those responsible for the killings.
In the presence of thousands of policemen and law enforcement personnel, ASWJ and JUI-S leaders issued the warning during a rally held here yesterday.
Several Sunni organisations joined the demonstration purportedly organised by the ASWJ to disseminate a message of peace, love and religious harmony, but some leaders used the event to send out a strong warning to the government that they intended to "settle scores on their own".
Condemning the incident in Rawalpindi, the leaders said since the Punjab government was yet to accept their demands, "revenge from the killers is the need of the hour".
The sectarian clashes in Rawalpindi began when a Muharram procession by Shias was passing by a Sunni seminary last week. At least 11 people from the Shia and Sunni communities were killed and over 50 injured.
Addressing the rally, JUI-S leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi contended that the ASWJ and JUI-S consider those who participated in the Muharram procession as "killers of innocent people".
He said: "We will take revenge on our own from them in case the government does not arrest and punish them under relevant sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act and Tahafuz-e-Pakistan ordinance.
"Arrest the criminals and hang them publicly. We also want a ban on all sorts of religious processions, and they should be limited to mosques and places of worship of other religions."
ASWJ leaders made aggressive speeches against the minority Shia sect. ASWJ leader Asadullah Farooqi said his group`s workers would not spare those responsible for the killings in Rawalpindi and would "even set their houses on fire in case the government fails to arrest them".
Despite a ban on hate speeches, law enforcement agencies did not act and no case was registered against Farooqi and others who made provocative speeches.