Online furor over State Minister for Interior sharing stage with Ahmad Ludhianvi days after Hazara attack

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Social media users weren’t pleased to find Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi sharing stage with Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianvi, head of Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jammat (ASWJ) – a political front for the banned sectarian outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), days after a terrorist attack on the Shia Hazara community in Quetta killed dozens.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan accepted responsibility for the attack and claimed that it carried out the suicide attack in collaboration with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Daesh. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has been previously linked to SSP, has a history of launching similar attacks in Quetta and across the country against the Shia community.

The pictures of the state minister were captured during the ‘Paigham-e-Islam Conference’, in Islamabad where Ahmad Ludhianvi was seen alongside the visiting Imam-e-Kaaba Dr.Sheikh Abdul Elah Al-Juhani and other religious leaders.

The issue however got prominence after rights activist Marvi Sirmad tweeted that the Minister of State for Interior should be with the families of the Quetta blast but he is here seen in the same frame as the head of ASWJ who keeps threatening Shias with mass killing.

Things went wayward after Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr. Shireen Mazari came to Shehryar Afridi’s rescue but she apparently came unprepared.

Dr. Shireen Mazari probably relied on the foreground of the photo and entirely missed Ludhianvi perched on the stage alongside other Ulema. However she was immediately corrected.

Other social media users decided to make it easier for the Minister to get the point.

Veteran journalist Abbas Nasir also decided to weigh in with a Social Media 101 lesson for the minister.

People took exception to the minister socializing with the head of a banned sectarian outfit which was explicitly named by his party leader and current Prime Minister Imran Khan as ‘terrorist’.

Imran Khan held a press conference in Islamabad after a deadly bombing in Quetta killed 84 people in February 2013, with most victims belonging to the Hazara community. While speaking at the press conference, he said:

I explicitly take their name and call out to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. If you carry out this terrorism in the name of Islam, then you couldn’t be greater enemies of the religion. Islam is the religion of peace. Attacking innocent civilians is outright terrorism.”

The Minister of State for Interior, Shehryar Afridi later visited the Hazara community in Quetta and on his assurance to address their grievances and fully implement the National Action Plan (NAP), the Hazara community ended their 4 day long sit-in.

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