Govt expedites crackdown against banned groups

Takes over dozens of mosques, seminaries and charity outlets run by such outfits

Our Correspondents March 07, 2019
Representational image showing Pakistan's police force. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI/QUETTA/PESHAWAR: Authorities on Wednesday expedited the country-wide crackdown against proscribed outfits, avowedly started as part of the National Action Plan (NAP), as they took control of dozens of seminaries, mosques and welfare organisations operated by such groups.

In the federal capital, the law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) launched a crackdown in various neighbourhoods and took control of mosques and seminaries run by banned organisations.

The Auqaf department moved swiftly to post administrators at these places. The imams of these mosques have also been removed and replaced with new imams and Khateebs.

In Balochistan, the provincial government took over all seminaries, schools, assets and offices of proscribed organisations, including the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). JuD was running four schools and seminaries in Quetta.

“We have taken all schools, seminaries, a dispensary and other assets in government custody,” Quetta Deputy Commissioner Major (retd) Tahir Zafar Abbasi said.

He said four ambulances parked in JuD offices were also taken into official control. “All the four ambulances taken from JuD offices were handed out to the Civil Hospital [in Quetta],” Abbasi said.

The authorities also replaced signboards of JuD and FIF with those of the district administration. “Now all these institutions would be running under the district administration,” a senior administration official said, adding that an official of the local administration has been appointed for this purpose.

Sindh government also announced that it has taken over control of 56 facilities run by JuD and FIF across the province. “Sindh government took the action after the federal government banned the two organisations,” Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister Murtaza Wahab said in a press conference.

“This means that the schools, medical facilities and madaris being run by JuD and FIF will now be run by the provincial government. These facilities will continue to provide services to the public and no person would be denied services being provided through these institutions. Exams of the educational institutions would take place as per schedule,” he said.

According to Barrister Wahab, the staff at the institutions would be allowed to continue their work after due clearance and scrutiny as per standards and procedures of the government.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Bajaur district, authorities seized control of a JuD seminary.  According to an official handout the action was taken in light of notification issued by the Ministry of interior.

On Tuesday, Minister of State for Interior Shaharyar Afridi announced that the authorities have taken 44 people, belonging to the organisations proscribed by the United Nations, into preventive detention.

They included the son of and a close relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the founder of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) that was accused by India of February 14 Pulwama attack.

The government however claimed that it had decided crackdown against the outfits as part of NAP announced in the aftermath of the December 2014 terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS).

The 20-point NAP aimed to counter violent extremism, hate speech and hate literature and to de-weaponise the society. Its three points specifically relate to action against proscribed organisations.

The Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Major Gen Asif Ghafoor has repeatedly said will not allow anyone to use its soil against the state interest.