Banned groups continue to resurface under new names

Published: June 8, 2016
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Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad, in Islamabad on August 26, 2001. PHOTO: REUTERS

Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad, in Islamabad on August 26, 2001. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The government is struggling to keep a lid on banned organisations which continuously resurface under pseudonyms and new aliases all the while challenging the state’s authority.

The interior ministry is responsible for determining whether any group is to be banned under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. But their job does not stop there, it is supposed to keep tabs on such organisations and prevent them from re-emerging.

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However, the ministry has failed to take concrete action to restrain actions of groups beyond adding their name to a central list.

The ministry presented a list of banned organisations to the Senate in December 2015 with 61 names on it. That list has not been updated since nor has it been made available to the public.

One of the organisations which have repeatedly circumvented the government’s restrictions by rebranding themselves is the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). It was first banned on January 22, 2002. It resurfaced as Millat-e-Islami before the government banned that iteration in November 2003. But it did not deter the group who managed to reinvent itself as the Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).

Though the ASWJ was banned on February 15, 2012, it has continued to flout that ban by staging sporadic activities across the country without much fear of retribution from the state.

Similarly, the Hafiz Saeed-led Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was banned in 2002. The group and Saeed were able to reinvent themselves under the banner of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and expand their operations into a vast charity network as well. Despite being sanctioned by the United Nations, the government has only kept the group on ‘observation’ while the group’s chief Saeed continues to headline events across the country delivering public speeches.

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Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), accused of carrying out deadly attacks in India, was first banned on January 22, 2002. It did not take long for the group to resurface under the new name of Khuddam-ul-Islam. The government banned that group on November 15, 2003. However, the group has continued to operate in the shadows.

Tehreek-e-Jaafria Pakistan (TJP) is another banned organization which was first proscribed on January 22, 2002. It soon re-emerged with a new title, Islami Tehreek Pakistan. It was again banned on November 15, 2003.

Imtaiz Gul, the executive director of Centre for Research Security Studies (CRSS), told The Express Tribune that poor enforcement of law is the lead cause of such issues.

He added that the seventh point of the government’s National Action Plan (NAP) also specifically deals with re-emergence of proscribed organisations under different names.

“These outfits don’t require registration to operate and they rename themselves to avoid surveillance from security agencies,” Gul says.

“We have an existing framework of law and the only thing we need is enforcement of law through consolidated efforts.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Adnan
    Jun 8, 2016 - 9:37AM

    Pakistan keeps playing these games while the rest of the world develops. Recommend

  • Jubair
    Jun 8, 2016 - 11:21AM

    As the “establishment” in Pakistan considers these groups to be strategic assets, it is near impossible for the political leadership to do anything. Recommend

  • Shakti
    Jun 8, 2016 - 12:43PM

    President Trump is coming. He knows how to handle these assets.Recommend

  • khan
    Jun 8, 2016 - 11:20PM

    @shakti These organizations were made by USA. If they have any utility for America, they ll grow further Recommend

  • Bharat
    Jun 9, 2016 - 1:59AM

    The rest of the world will still be here, when Pakistan decides to grow upRecommend

  • syed & syed
    Jun 9, 2016 - 2:31AM

    It appears that Government is involved in the so called Islamist parties. Bans will not work. Give a clean sweep and all first to fourth heads of each party be put behind bars. After summary trial they be banished to remote areas and make sure they till the land and engage themselves to grow plants and agriculture to feed themselves . During nights they be chained so that they may not escape as shown in films that the area is surrounded by armed rangers. The Courts be taken into confidence that they are not under detention but are made to work as an honorable citizen.Recommend

  • hamza
    Jun 9, 2016 - 2:59AM

    @Shakti:

    hahaha…you wish. americans will not allow him nor will pakistan. keep dreaming veggie eater. Recommend

  • hamza
    Jun 9, 2016 - 2:59AM

    good..unleash these on india. may there be another mumbai to teach them a lessonRecommend

  • RK
    Jun 9, 2016 - 5:28AM

    This is what happens when you ban organizations but refuse to arrest their leaders. Recommend

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