Lahore - In the spick and span lobby of a local three-star hotel, there were only a couple of journalists and a lone photographer dripping with rain water blaming his stars along with taking it out on the provincial government for the havoc the rain had wrought. Apparently they were gathered for a Press conference, but some didn’t even know who was going to speak on behalf of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) -- the new name and face of Sipah-e-Sabaha Pakistan (SSP) -- or where they were supposed to assemble. A group of bearded men were sitting in a corner and among them was Deputy Secretary Information Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat Rao Khalid who was surrounded with his bodyguards and assistants.

He was there to make an announcement which was to denounce the sit-in staged by PTI and PAT but as he talked, his informal discussion with this correspondent revealed his outfit’s anti-Shia leanings, something it has been notorious for. 

Mr Khalid did not mince his words in recalling Maulana Azam Tariq and others who had been martyred one by one. “The problem is that our organization would have stood head and shoulders above all parties of the country, if different leaders had not been shot down.” he said.

He was even more categorical when he said that his organization, “was not going to play any role in mitigating the Shia-Sunni discord.” He said that the role has already been played by organization’s previous leaders.

His press conference turned from the informal to the personal when he launched a blistering attack on Dr Qadri along sectarian lines. Bitterly acerbic in portraying Dr Qadri’s personality he said that before coming to Pakistan and starting his campaign, he had met Iran’s Revolutionary leader Khamenai and following his footsteps, he himself wanted to become a leader like him in Pakistan.

He had a warning for Dr Qadri as well. His efforts to amend the constitution which he maintained were meant to safeguard infidels from being declared Non-Muslims will be resisted. Dr Qadri was actually trying to protect Ahmadis, he roared.

He also evinced a soft-spot for the PML-N, the reason why he had called the press-conference in the first place. An outfit which according to Rao Khalid had nothing to do with politics, was organizing a press conference to condemn the PTI and PAT’s sit-ins. It made sense. He said that despite weeks, the Pakistan Tekreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Sit-in could not achieve any result. Regretting the fact that both the parties were aiming to achieve their targets through sticks and clubs, he urged for the resolution of the stalemate through dialogue. That, however, was not a caveat, that Imran must back down on the point of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.

So far as the rains were concerned, he did not have any harsh words for the PML-N led government and said that he was surprised that despite devastating rains for over three days, the city at least had not turned into a river.

The Press Conference was held besides a family table in the Food and Dining Hall, where journalists, he himself and his bodyguards and photographers gorged on dozens of dishes not to mention a whole variety of desserts in an all too familiar sight where the country’s media-men, notably from electronic media rush to cover anything and generously accord airtime so long as the place is some grand hotel, and they themselves treated to a sumptuous meal.