Banned Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) chief Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi has been removed from the Fourth Schedule, it emerged on Thursday.
The Fourth Schedule is a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act under which someone who is suspected of terrorism is kept under observation; it is mandatory for him or her to register his or her attendance with the local police regularly.
The Fourth Schedule also includes elements found to be or suspected to be involved in anti-state activities, delivering hate speeches and/or activists of religious outfits not yet banned but related to militancy in some way.
Punjab’s Caretaker Chief Minister Hasan Askari Rizvi confirmed to Reuters that Ludhianvi had been removed from the watchlist, and that his assets would be unfrozen and travel restrictions on him removed.
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The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has written to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to unfreeze Ludhianvi’s assets after Punjab’s Home Department removed his name from the Fourth Schedule, a Nacta official told DawnNewsTV.
“The election commission will decide today in a meeting whether his group can contest the election,” Prof Rizvi was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Although the ASWJ, a sectarian outfit, has long been banned in Pakistan, nomination papers of a number of election candidates affiliated with it have been accepted, allowing them to contest the upcoming polls.
The most prominent among them is Aurangzeb Farooqui, who is contesting on a provincial as well as a National Assembly seat from Karachi.
Ludhianvi himself has contested elections in the past and was even briefly declared winner from former NA-89 Jhang after his opponent Sheikh Mohammad Akram was disqualified by an election tribunal in the aftermath of 2013 elections. The Supreme Court had later overturned the order.
The removal of ban on Ludhianvi has emerged just hours after Pakistan was placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ‘grey list’ a second time for failing to curb terror financing on its soil.