Azam Tariq released

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Azam Tariq, head of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), was released after 13 months in detention on Wednesday and challenged Pakistan Awami Tehrik chief Tahirul Qadri that his party would not be able to win even a single union council seat from Jhang in the next local government elections.

Maulana Tariq was released from the Sihala Police Rest House at around 4:00 pm after the Federal Review Board, made up of judges from the Lahore High Court, refused to extend Tariq's confinement during a review of his detention on Monday.

He was elected to the National Assembly from a Jhang constituency in the October 10 elections while still in jail.

After coming out of the rest house gate, Maulana Tariq ran to a group of journalists and denied any link to sectarian violence in the country. He claimed he and his party had always believed in 'peaceful co-existence' with all other sects.

"We have always believed that we should not disturb anybody and the others should not interfere with our beliefs. We never supported violence," Maulana Tariq said.

"I promise that the SSP has nothing to do with Shia-Sunni riots. SSP does not believe in killings and murders. We believe in the adage 'Don't quit your own religion and don't stop others from practicing theirs'. However, I think a committee should be formed to determine the reasons and causes of sectarian riots in the country to devise a strategy for finding a permanent solution to that problem," Maulana Tariq told reporters.

"I have returned successful in the elections despite the fact that I was behind the bars for the last 13 months. I defeated the so-called leader (Maulana Tahirul Qadri), who was claiming to be the prime minister of the country, by 10,000 votes. I promise you here that in the next local government elections he and his party will not be able to win even a single union council seat in Jhang," he said.

Plans action against govt: Maulana Tariq said his followers were contemplating legal action against the government over the ban on the SSP.