Islamabad: Malik Ishaq, the chief of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who is accused of plotting the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, received a monthly stipend from the PML-N government in Pakistan's Punjab province while he was in prison, a media report said on Saturday.

While in jail, Ishaq, who was freed on bail recently, enjoyed Punjab government's financial assistance ever since the PML-N came to power in 2008, a newspaper quoted unnamed officials as saying.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, who has himself been under a cloud for his alleged links with the Sipah-e-Sahaba terror group, confirmed the disbursement of the stipend to Ishaq. However, he contended the amount was given to Ishaq's family, and not to him, according to orders of the court.

The daily reported that its own investigation had revealed that there was no court order pertaining to the matter and that no such stipend was paid to Ishaq during the tenure of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Ishaq was freed from Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore on Thursday after Pakistan's Supreme Court granted him bail. He had been held in prison for 14 years after being arrested for various charges, ranging from involvement in terrorism to plotting sectarian attacks.

Ishaq was named in 44 cases in which 70 people were killed. Meanwhile, in a related development, a key witness in a case against Ishaq, Fida Hussain Ghalvi, has been provided police protection to avert any untoward incidents.

This highlights the concerns among intelligence and law enforcement agencies after the release of Ishaq, the report said.
Ghalvi said two policemen had been deputed to guard him on the orders of Multan police chief Amir Zulifqar.

Ghalvi has relocated from his hometown out of fear for his life. He is currently moving between two different locations for security reasons.

However, two other key witnesses and a complainant against Ishaq have not been provided any security and fear for their lives.

The men, identified as Khadim Hussain, Sikandar and Abdul Ghafour (the complainant) are the only people to have survived court cases over which 20 people were killed, including eight who were murdered purely for being associated with cases against Ishaq.

"I can be attacked at any time and I do not know if I will be alive tomorrow or not, as you know almost everyone who was a witness or a relative has been slain," said Sikandar.

Abdul Ghafour, the complainant in the first case against Ishaq in which 12 people were massacred during a Shia gathering, said he had been waiting for justice for 14 years but had lost hope after Ishaq's release.