The Jamaatud Dawa (JD), which has been outlawed as a group that supports terrorist organisations since December 2008, has been holding regular Fajr gatherings in the city this Ramazan to solicit and collect donations for its activities, The Express Tribune has learnt.
JD was banned after the terrorist attack on Mumbai in November 2008 that was blamed on Lashkar-i-Taiba (LT). Its chief Hafiz Saeed insists that JD is a welfare organisation with no links to militant groups, but according to the United Nations, the Jamaat is a front for the Lashkar.
And on August 5 this year, the Interior Ministry issued a list of 25 religious and welfare groups that are not allowed to take part in alms collection activities in Ramazan – usually the most rewarding time of the year for collecting charity.
In previous years, the JD set up camps all over the city soliciting donations during Ramazan. This year, the group has been arranging speeches by Hafiz Saeed at various places and advertising them via poster, pamphlet and mass text messages. Hizbut Tahrir, another group banned from collecting charity in Ramazan, has also put up banners on The Mall.
On August 7, the JD organised such a gathering at Shahdara Stadium where Hafiz Saeed asked the audience for donations to help people affected by floods. Another was held yesterday at a marriage hall in Moon Market, Gulshan-i-Ravi.
Saeed started his speech on Sunday with a condemnation of India for “trying to flood Pakistan by deliberately releasing water in its rivers” and ended it with a plea for donations. He accused India of trying to flood Pakistani agricultural land and destroy thousands of acres of standing crops, and the government of letting India get away with it.
He said the JD had organised a special programme to give people affected by floods a brighter Eid. He said JD volunteers were active in flooded areas arranging for meals at sehar and iftar and distributing food and medicine. New clothes were being sent to the flooded areas for Eid. He said thousands of people left shelterless in Khoski, Shakurabad, Diplu and Golarchi awaited aid and appealed to citizens to donate to the cause.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2011.