Pakistan bans ASWJ, a front for Sipah-e-Sahaba

Islamabad: The Pakistan government has quietly banned the Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a front organisation for the proscribed Sipah-e-Sahaba, according to a media report on Saturday.

The Interior Ministry issued a notification two weeks ago to ban the ASWJ.

The notification stated that the ASWJ was suspected to be involved in terrorism-related activities linked to the Sipah-e-Sahaba, BBC Urdu reported.

The new notification, which has so far not been made public, was issued under Schedule 1 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which lists all banned organisations.

According to the notification, authorities in all four provinces have been alerted to the change in status for ASWJ.

There was no official word on the development.

ASWJ chief Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi, who was recently barred from entering Islamabad due to concerns that he could foment sectarian unrest, said he was not aware of the ban.

He said if such a ban had been put in place, his group would challenge it in court.

He claimed his group respected the law and imposing a ban on it was "akin to imposing a ban on Pakistan".

The ASWJ is part of the Defa-e-Pakistan Council, a conglomerate of militant and hardline groups that was cobbled together last year by Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.

The UN Security Council declared the JuD a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.