ISLAMABAD (TIP): Within 48 hours of US secretary of state John Kerry leaving Pakistan’s shores, the government here banned 12 organizations, including the Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD), a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, as well as the Haqqani network. India blames JuD chief Hafiz Saeed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks for which the UN had banned his organization in December 2008.
The move is seen as part of its renewed anti-terror efforts in the wake of last month’s Peshawar school attack. The decision also comes a day after the US State Department declared Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Mullah Fazlullah, sheltered in Afghanistan, a “specially designated global terrorist” on Islamabad’s insistence. Last year the State Department had named JuD as a “foreign terrorist organization”.
Fazlullah had claimed responsibility for the December 16 attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar, in which 150 people, mostly children, were mowed down in cold blood.
Amir Rana, executive director, Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, Islamabad, said the banning of an organization means freezing of its assets, blocking of its funding sources and proper monitoring of its activities.
“In the next move, the offices, infrastructures and networks of the proscribed groups will be banned,” he said. Pakistan was said to have taken over JuD’s educational institutions and other properties after the UN ban.
“It’s our first step towards execution of the National Action Plan. The nation will see more positive steps towards dismantling militant groups. Both civilian and military leadership decided to ban the Haqqani Network and JuD,” The Express Tribune quoted a senior intelligence official as saying.
While JuD continues to operate openly in Pakistan, and its leader, Hafiz Saeed, holds public rallies and often gives TV interviews, the Haqqani Network, a yesteryear friend of Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), was using the tribal region of North Waziristan as its springboard.
The US State Department had last year named the JuD as a “foreign terrorist organization”, while India blames its leader Hafiz Saeed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Asif Khursheed, JuD Islamabad’s spokesperson, revealed that last week the “home department sent us a letter informing us that the Jamaat is being kept on the watch-list with some two dozen other organizations. “Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a purely welfare and charity organization and has never been involved in bad motives. Even, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has justified our stance in the past,” he told media.
According to Amir Rana, the executive director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, the banning of an organization means freezing its assets, blocking its funding sources and proper monitoring of its activities. “In the next move, the offices, infrastructures and networks of the proscribed groups will be banned,” he reportedly said. Pakistan had banned 12 organizations days before US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Pakistan this week. With this latest addition of 12 more outfits, they the number of proscribed organizations in Pakistan has reached 72.
Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami, the organization accused of conducting terrorist attacks in Pakistan and India is also among the newly banned groups. Its operational commander, Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan in 2011.
The list also features Harkat-ul-Mujahidin, the group accused of operating in Kashmir, and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, a welfare wing of the JuD.