ISLAMABAD (AFP) – The leader of a banned Pakistani sectarian militant group is set to walk free from jail, officials said Tuesday, even as the government considers “radical changes” to tackle militancy after a Taleban school massacre.
Malik Ishaq, the head of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which is dedicated to killing minority Shiite Muslims, is expected to be released on Thursday after the Punjab provincial government withdrew a request to extend his detention under public order laws. The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to eradicate the “cancer” of sectarianism and will add to concerns about the effectiveness of the government response.
LeJ has claimed responsibility for numerous bloody attacks, including two bombings targeting Shiites in the southwestern city of Quetta in 2013 that killed a total of nearly 200 people.
A senior legal official told AFP that the decision not to seek an extension of Ishaq’s detention was made by a three-judge review panel at Lahore High Court on Monday. Ishaq was named a “Spe-cially Designated Global Terrorist” by the US State Department earlier this year. An anti-terror court in May cleared him of inciting violence and of making speeches which fomented hate but he was held under maintenance of public order laws.