Jailed for hate speech

RAWALPINDI: A Pakistan anti-terrorism court on Monday sentenced a former leader of a banned sectarian party to six months in jail for hate speech, part of a crackdown after last year’s deadly Peshawar school attack.

Pakistan had previously tolerated many sectarian organisations, but has taken action this year as part of its grand National Action Plan to counter terrorism after a Taliban attack killed 153 people — mostly children — at the Peshawar school.

Mufti Tanveer Alam Farooqi, a former leader in the anti-Shiite organisation Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, was jailed for six months and fined 50,000 rupees ($480) by the court in Rawalpindi, according to an official there.

ASWJ is considered to be the political face of extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, behind numerous bloody attacks on minority Shiite Muslims.

ASJW was officially banned in 2012 but had previously been allowed to operate freely, holding rallies and gatherings across the country.  Authorities had also been accused of quietly tolerating LeJ until July, when the organisation’s leadership was wiped out in a battle with police in the eastern city of Lahore.