ISLAMABAD: The Sindh government is yet to approach the federal government and the Ministry of Interior for slapping a ban on Ansarul Sharia Pakistan, a militant group allegedly involved in targeted killings, especially targeting personnel of law-enforcement agencies in Karachi.
During a recent visit to Karachi, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had announced that the terrorist group would be banned. But Sindh’s Home Department has not yet contacted the federal government for including the organisation in the list of proscribed organisations, Interior Ministry officials said.
This was the standard procedure, officials said.
Ansarul Sharia Pakistan is allegedly involved in subversive acts in addition to being involved in the recent attack on MQM-Pakistan leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan.
Currently, as many as 65 militant and terrorist groups are included in the list of banned outfits maintained by the Ministry of Interior.
The Tehreek-e-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir (TAJK) was the last outfit placed on the list of proscribed organisations on June 8 this year, while Ansarul Hussain was placed on this list on December 30 last year.
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Four groups -- Ghulaman-e-Sahaba, Maymar Trust, Jamatul Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) -- are still on the ‘Watch List’ maintained by the Ministry of Interior.
A number of Ansarul Sharia adherents have already been nabbed by law enforcers in Karachi.
During the first week of this month, security forces had claimed to have arrested the head of this newly-emerged outfit in an intelligence-based operation in Karachi.
Abdullah Hashmi, 28, and an IT expert believed to be the head of the new outfit were arrested by law enforcers during that operation in Karachi.
According to Khalid Muhammad, the Director-General of Commandeleven, an Islamabad-based think-tank, Ansarul Sharia appeared to have radicalised youth belonging to the educated middle class.
He said the Ansarul Sharia just had between 12 and 40 members, adding that its size clearly showed that it was getting operational support from another group.
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He said that the tactic of targeted assassinations, earlier used by the terrorist group, was previously also used by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Jamaatul Ahrar.
According to Khalid Muhammad, funds for this group were mostly being raised from southern Punjab where TTP and Da’esh had a strong fund-raising base.
Dismissing the notion that the group mostly comprised of terrorists returning from Syria, he said if this was true, they should have made their base in Gilgit-Baltistan or Parachinar.
According to another defence analyst Brig (retd) Said Nazeer Mohmand, smaller terrorist groups such as Ansarul Sharia were thought to have between 10 and 15 members with a tendency of being ‘innovative’ in terror tactics.
He said large groups had ‘distinct signatures’ and their activities could be disrupted by security agencies.
However, ‘signatures’ of smaller groups were not easy to track. “This creates confusion among law-enforcement agencies (because) they are always doing shallow basking by investigating and nabbing (members of) these smaller groups,” he said.
He said: “When (most members of) a smaller terrorist group are nabbed, another group surfaces -- a classical urban warfare strategy.”