Pakistan’s slow efforts to show resolve against internationally declared (alleged) terrorist organization Jamatud Dawah (JuD), parent organization of Indian Kashmir centric Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its relief wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), last week, entered a new phase by the announcement of a “takeover” of these groups’ assets and freezing of their accounts.
The renewed effort of Pakistan came in the backdrop of a plenary meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental money-laundering watchdog, scheduled to consider an American sponsored motion to place Pakistan on a watch-list with countries failing to prevent terrorism financing. FATF meeting in Paris, from February 18 to 23, discussed Pakistan’s name on the United States demand, which is backed by Britain, France and Germany, and some other members of the committee to decide the matter.
Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avert this move by posing different steps and legislative measures to show its resolve against terrorism and control such alleged terrorist groups active on its land.
Following the visit of United Nations Security Council special team to Pakistan to know about Islamabad measures against these groups in first week of February, the President of Pakistan promulgated an ordinance approving UN Security Council Resolution 1267 declared terrorist outfits in the list of country’s proscribed organizations. This urgent measure included JuD and FIF in the list of terrorist groups. Later, the Interior Ministry issued a notification ordering respective authorities to takeover all movable and immovable assets of these groups with immediate effect.
On February 10, the Interior Ministry directed the authorities concerned stating that “requisite action with regard to freezing and taking over of assets (moveable, immoveable and human resource) associated with JuD and FIF shall be taken in pursuance of ordinance No-II of 2018”. Earlier, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain had amended the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, and allowed the state to proscribe UNSC-listed organizations, some of which had been exempt from prosecution.
However, ground realities showed a different picture.
In major cities of Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and Multan business of JuD and FIF seemed to continue on a routine pace routine except that government administrators were working closely with the JuD and FIF teams now in their health and education facilities.
“At the moment, we have directions from government to appoint administration officers in selective facilities of the JuD and FIF. Further directions would be issued later, a government official said.
Government authorities were hesitant to talk clearly about the directions and policy.
“We know nothing,” said one senior administrator in the capital city when asked about the directions and list of the JuD seminaries and other facilities to takeover.
“This whole plan is to put pressure on Pakistan, which is pleasing America and India by acting against us,” Ahmad Nadeem Awan, an official of the JuD said, adding, “There is not a single criminal or terrorist activity charge against our group or any member in any part of Pakistan. We just focus on relief activities and welfare projects,” he claimed.
In Pakistan, JuD, has 77 big seminaries, 310 schools, eight big hospitals, nearly 200 dispensaries and more than 300 ambulances, mainly, in the most populated province of Punjab. Ahmad said JuD has the right to move court against these steps and would challenge the presidential ordinance too.
Generally, JuD and a few other groups which are exclusively Indian centric and open supporters of freedom struggle by Muslim groups in Indian Kashmir are considered part of “proxy war” against India with impressions of full moral, logistical and financial support by Islamabad through different means.
“We have no evidence against these groups. We are taking action against these groups under international obligations. We want to tell the world that we are serious and we will act against such groups even on the basis of doubt,” Rana Muhammad Afzal, Pakistani state minister for finance said.
The same legislator Afzal, when he was not appointed as minister in 2016, in a foreign committee meeting of the house, urged Pakistani state to act against the accused terror groups in Pakistan. Afzal questioned the government’s failure to act against Saeed reportedly asking “Which egg is Hafiz Saeed laying for us that we are nurturing him.”
The story of gradual actions against JuD, LeT and FIF started in early 2001 followed by an effective Indian campaign to build pressure on Pakistan. Military dictator Pervez Musharraf, banned LeT in 2001 for the first time, after becoming the front-row ally on the “War on Terror”, along with other militant groups. Following the Mumbai attacks in India in 2008, and accusation by the Indian government against these groups, the name of JuD was put for action by UNSCR which resulted in taking control of JuD main center in Muridkey, Punjab, in 2008 by the then government. Later, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of JuD, was also put under house arrest a few times but got relief from courts for lack of evidence against him.
ame of Saeed and his close aides is also included in the list of UNSCR 1267. Last year, Pakistan government made efforts to freeze their accounts and forbid them from collecting donations and sacrificial animals-hides. Pakistan also put the names of JuD and FIF in the list of “under-watch” groups for “suspicious activities” last year. What further measures would be taken against these groups by Islamabad is yet to be seen.
Amir Mateen, political analyst and senior journalist, said Pakistan is gradually approaching a stage where it has to take a clear stand against non-state actors. “We have to choose between state or non-state actors,” he said, adding, “Whole world, gradually, is getting united against Pakistan and our state has to think about it.” He said we couldn’t fool the whole world for a long time. We have to opt for a clear and stated policy on such matters. He said there might be some more pressures like the Paris conference in future.
Meanwhile, the US, welcoming the measures, sought more information from Pakistan about the steps it had taken to blacklist certain groups.“We look forward to additional information on how these steps are being implemented and what concrete steps are being taken to counter the groups, which is crucial,” the state department spokesperson said last week.