It’s time to cut the proverbial cord
It takes some kind of stupid to arm and fund the very people trying to destabilize your region.
The past five years have been among the most critical in Pakistan's existence. Economic and political tensions which were simmering for the past fifty years have finally come to a boil. So it comes as a shock that the Punjab government would hand Rs82 million to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the charity wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group allegedly responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks in 2009. Of the total Rs82 million allotted, Rs79 million have been earmarked for the group’s headquarters in Murdike and Rs3 million were granted to religious schools run by the organisation throughout Punjab.
On an international scale monetary support for an extremist organisation like JuD highlights a lack of commitment to the promises Pakistan made to its international allies and demonstrates disregard for strong relations with India. At a national level, these revelations are nothing more than a slap in the face of the families of the 2,000 or so civilians killed in militant attacks since 2009.
Following the Mumbai attacks, the United Nations imposed a freeze on assets, travel ban and arms embargo on four LeT leaders, resulting in the shutdown of JuD offices and the house arrest of JuD leader Hafiz Saeed, a move which was later declared unconstitutional by the Lahore High Court. These actions were taken to show Pakistan’s seriousness in dealing with LeT but the revelations of Punjab's parliamentary budget report have cast a shadow of doubt on the sincerity of these overtures.
The fact that Punjab is funding religious extremist groups draws attention to the schizophrenia in the PML-N. Is this an isolated incident? In February 2010, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah was spotted campaigning with a leader of banned outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), an extremist group aimed at the extermination of Shiites from Pakistan and suspected of cooperating with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).The continued support of groups like JuD by the government of Punjab is nothing short of denial. PML-N's unwillingness to deal with the problem of growing militancy is one thing. Actively supporting groups directly involved in militancy is another.
It takes some kind of stupid to arm and fund the very people trying to destabilize your region. Perhaps the leadership of PML-N hopes to buy out militancy itself - an equally flawed idea. There is no guarantee that JuD or other religious extremist outfits are going to seize activities in exchange take for money. It also sets a dangerous precedence. Funding these organizations, as a matter of policy can lead to the possible demand for greater funding with the threat of violence in the future.
In a time when funding is sorely needed on multiple projects from electricity grids to securing drinking water in rural communities to reworking Pakistan's failed public education system, it is absolutely astonishing that the government of Punjab has chosen to bypass these problems and fund the JuD.
This clearly irrational and highlights the delusions of our ruling elite. The problem of increased militancy is not going to go away if you close your eyes. Unless the government of Punjab blocks funding for extremist groups and treats them as persona non grata, then attacks on civilians will continue.