Punjab home minister says LeJ chief will remain imprisoned until Jan. 6, when he is due to appear in court.
Malik Ishaq, the leader of a banned Pakistani sectarian militant group who was set to walk free from jail, is being held for two more weeks in a murder case, officials said Thursday.
The head of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which is dedicated to killing minority Shia Muslims, was to be released on Thursday after the Punjab government withdrew a request to extend his detention under public order laws following the Lahore High Court’s refusal to consider the petition. But he has now been detained in a murder case, a police official said, and is being held in Multan.
The news of Ishaq comes with the country ramping up its anti-terror strategy after an attack on the Army Public School this month killed 150 people, spurring the country to set up military courts and drop its moratorium on capital punishment in terror cases.
“Ishaq was sent to jail on judicial remand until Jan. 6 by an anti-terrorist court on Wednesday and he will be produced before the court again on Jan. 7,” said Ghulam Mohiuddin.
LeJ has claimed responsibility for numerous bloody attacks, including two bombings targeting Shias in Quetta in 2013 that killed a total of nearly 200 people.
Punjab Home Minister Shujah Khanzada also confirmed Ishaq’s arrest and said the government had decided not to release the LeJ leader, who is still facing several cases, because of recent security tensions. “The government has arrested him again … on the basis of new cases registered against him,” he said. Khanzada did not give details on the nature of the new cases.
Ishaq, named a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the U.S., has been implicated in numerous murder cases and was accused of masterminding a 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, which killed eight people.
An anti-terror court in May cleared him of inciting violence and of making speeches that fomented hate but he was held under maintenance of public order laws.