US aid to Sunni Ittehad Council backfired

Published: January 12, 2012
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Money received for anti-Taliban rally but group later led pro-Mumtaz Qadri demo. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Money received for anti-Taliban rally but group later led pro-Mumtaz Qadri demo. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

WASHINGTON: 

The United States gave money to the Sunni Ittehad Council to organise anti-Taliban rallies in 2009; however, the council later led demonstrations in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, in an apparent boomerang of US policy to support religious moderation in Pakistan.

US government website Usaspending.gov shows that the Sunni Ittehad Council received $36,607 from Washington in 2009 under the State Department’s Public Diplomacy Programmes for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The purpose of the grant was to help the Sunni Ittehad Council organise a National Flag March on August 14, 2009. The rally, held on August 14, is believed to have been a rally by the religious organisation to protest against the Taliban.

But it seems as though the religious organisation switched course after the killing of Salmaan Taseer as it held mass rallies in 2011 to protest against the arrest of Mumtaz Qadri. Last week, religious organisations even announced an Rs100 million reward for Mumtaz Qadri’s gun.

However, following the reports, the US State Department has said that the US government no longer provides support to the group in any capacity.

Laura D Lucas, a spokesperson for the State Department told The Express Tribune, “This particular grant supported a successful rally in 2009 at which Pakistanis spoke out against the Taliban, violent extremism, and suicide bombings. This grant is consistent with our continuing efforts, in Pakistan and around the world, to amplify local voices on issues of common concern, such as counter-terrorism.”

The State Department was approached by the Sunni Ittehad Council with a request for funding for the rally, said an official speaking to The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.

The Sunni Ittehad Council was originally an umbrella group, consisting of several organisations coming together as a bulwark against terrorism and a voice against suicide bombings, said the State Department spokesperson. She added that the group’s leadership and direction have changed since the grant was given by the State Department in 2009, adding that the US government no longer provides support to the group and that according to their understanding, a number of its Pakistani partners have also severed ties with the group.

In response to a question on whether the US was allowed to fund religious groups, the State Department spokesperson said that the US government is allowed to give grants to religious groups for non-religious activities, adding that the US Embassy in Islamabad closely monitored the grant.

“The United States continues to recognise the many sacrifices that the Pakistani people and security forces have made in the war against violent extremists, and we remain committed to working together on our shared goals of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan in a stable, secure, and prosperous region,” the spokesperson added.

Two leading members of the council, who have been with the group from the beginning of its existence, denied receiving any American funds. The apparent discrepancy could be explained by lack of transparency within the organisation, The Associated Press reported.

“This propaganda is being unleashed against us because we are strongly opposed to Western democracy and American policies in the region and in the world,” said Sahibzada Fazal Karim, the head of the council, before reiterating the group’s support for Qadri.

“We are against extremism, but we support Qadri because he did a right thing,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (43)

  • Akhtar
    Jan 12, 2012 - 9:51AM

    This is funny!

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  • Kafka
    Jan 12, 2012 - 9:56AM

    Great, now we know who is aiding these religious groups to incite sectarian violence in Pakistan.

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  • shazada zahid mahmoud loan
    Jan 12, 2012 - 9:56AM

    This guy Sahibzada Fazal Karim needs to be investigated and prosecuted for recieving money from a foreign power for the sole aim of destablising the country. The guy is not an intellectual, lacks an credibility and must be brought to the due processes of the law. Who is this man claiming to be a leader of a party. The party must be investigated for its membership and then shut down and the leaders imprisoned. There are too many leaders of bogus organisations that are going around the country creating mayhem. I urge the government to take this bold step and completely shut down these people.

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  • Naveed
    Jan 12, 2012 - 9:59AM

    now this is seriously funny….ROFL!

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  • Ali Kazmi
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:08AM

    Filthy hypocritical beggars. Anti-Americanism is stupid, but what makes it even stupider and hypocritical is when anti-Americans accept American largesse for their activities. These guys are like those Occupy Wall Street morons who rant against capitalism, but make full use of all the goodness and luxuries that capitalism produces.

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  • ali
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:08AM

    My God! talk about interference in a country’s internal affairs …

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  • Aamir
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:22AM

    Wow Wow Wow.. So Islamic parties are also beneficiaries of US Aid!
    So who is calling for Go America Go then?? If this is true, then divisions and sects among Muslims is also funded. Truth is out of the bag I guess.

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  • naeem hussain
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:22AM

    Is there still any doubt that who is sponsoring terrorism in the world?

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  • ali
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:24AM

    hahahaha

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  • Lone Star
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:39AM

    For promoting this sectarian violence if its not USA then its our “Islamic brother” Saudi Arabia.

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  • Pakistani Agnostic
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:46AM

    I don’t whether to laugh or cry at this news

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  • Hafiz Jamil
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:21AM

    Sahibzada Fazal Karim has clearly stated that this is nothing but propaganda against SIC because this is the only party in the country which strongly opposed western policies in the region. No doubt, US is afraid of SIC because it thought that this party is also like JI, JUI by whom it can dictate their demands but when they found that SIC is totally against us then they started alleging it.

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  • zehra
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:21AM

    what credibitly is left of religious wings who say death to usa when you take charity khud?

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  • Jan 12, 2012 - 11:33AM

    Exactly Aamir .its all a well played Game

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  • adeel759
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:40AM

    This very Aid Program its not to pricier sectarian violence rather help moderate religious groups to rise up against the violent sects. But this its funny anywayRecommend

  • Nasir
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:44AM

    This is an other feather in our CAP.Great news.This is the true face of so called moulanas.No one is poised in Pakistan except very few.

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  • Anjum Amin Siddiqui
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:56AM

    The biggest disappointment for all liberals is that it took 15 years of hard work to promote Berailvi Sect as real face of Islam and just one day all came down to earth. Moderate Islam extremist Islam Orthodox Islam, Fundamental what else we need to digest. Cannot everyone understand Islam as religion has nothing to do with all such labels.

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  • Basit
    Jan 12, 2012 - 12:04PM

    Now imagine how much money our beloved liberals are getting from America Bahaudar on daily basis. The numbers would be staggering!

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  • SUB
    Jan 12, 2012 - 12:24PM

    @shazada zahid mahmoud loan: Dear Sir, Prosecution does not help eradicate such ideologies. This country is not ruled by Mussolini or Hitlar. People need to be educated

    I wish there is an investigation and I pray that the whole of the ruling elite in politics, religion, journalism, judiciary, the defense forces and everybody who is somebody in this country who have taken moneys from outside Pakistan for any given agendas can be brought to justice.

    But are we, as a nation prepared for this? We are grave worshipers and only believe in our like-minded mullahs, politicians, journalists, judges & even the fashion designers

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  • maryam ali
    Jan 12, 2012 - 12:48PM

    it is reality which is historically proven the before the partition Baralvies has been supported by Britisher and know American . anyway it is harsh truth .

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  • Disappointed...
    Jan 12, 2012 - 1:02PM

    ET why are you censoring my comments? Is it because I am exposing the truth? Why are you publishing only one of the side of the story and not mentioning the $1 million dollars State Dept gave to supposedly independent film maker Sharmeen Chinoy for her documentaries maligning Pakistan?

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  • John B
    Jan 12, 2012 - 1:18PM

    The duplicity game of PAK.

    US has become aware of this and Abottabad confirmed this. Follow the time line and one would be clear in understanding. Withholding aid, Non recommendation of financial assistance, and loan Gaurantee, and alike. How much USAID flooded in after the flood?

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  • Jan 12, 2012 - 1:26PM

    @Anjum Amin Siddiqui:
    How u say that they promoted Barelvi as real face of Islam? what they did in this regard????
    Also $36,607 is only 30 Lakh rupees and how on earn someone will believe that 3000000 (three million rupees) is enough money to launch nationwide movement.
    Also money was given in 2009 and they are still using it, This is just ridiculous because it was 30 lakh not 30 billion.

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  • Azmat
    Jan 12, 2012 - 1:29PM

    Lottas are for everyone

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  • Kazmis
    Jan 12, 2012 - 1:46PM

    US abandoned Sunni Tehrik because many big figures left Sunni Tehrik. Now this support will go to new groups who need money now.

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  • AAMIR SAEED
    Jan 12, 2012 - 2:14PM

    Please don’t glorify a culprit by using his picture and that too with garlands. Credulous people are swayed by such coverage of these culprits. Please exercise a little bit judgment and discretion while using photographsRecommend

  • Jan 12, 2012 - 2:26PM

    So they prefer their Religious view over US aid, and go beyond the US interests and policies…

    Good!

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  • Salman
    Jan 12, 2012 - 3:14PM

    Then why we blame Saudis for funding such groups when the real finance suppliers are others?

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  • kilo
    Jan 12, 2012 - 3:24PM

    Now I understand where and how this scary looking people get their funding fromRecommend

  • Mia Khan
    Jan 12, 2012 - 5:41PM

    Do people now believe that the us is a two faced hypocrite of the worst kind and a lot of these so called religious parties are NOT representing Islam but there self. These people were calling the taliban kafir what should we call them who have been paid to destabilize Pakistan and induce civil unrest,,,,how many more such organisations are being paid and manipulated by the righteous usa…Recommend

  • The Truth
    Jan 12, 2012 - 6:04PM

    The truth is revealed now. That’s why the Sunni Ittehad Council was always against Taliban… Money matters…Hmmmm

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Jan 12, 2012 - 6:39PM

    hahahahahh saidia and america both does these things jaye mumtaz qadri…

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  • Jan 12, 2012 - 7:13PM

    Frankly this is a dilemma for Americans. Qadri is from the non-violent sect yet he did this. So the US (as well as everyone else ) grossly miscalculated that there is one, if any, non-violent sect in Pakistan . It’s only that each has it’s own tipping point, and it’s soon becomes very difficult for anyone, least Americans to working through those tipping points.
    Another irony is that if they fund a popular, and probably democratic group, it succumbs to the popular sentiment. In this case, they will probably be better off funding not-so-democratic and populist groups (as if they ever were :) )Recommend

  • Cautious
    Jan 12, 2012 - 7:31PM

    All the USA given to Pakistan has backfired – what makes this any different?

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  • Tahir Amjad
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:47PM

    weldone sunni ittehad council ….fill up your big stomachs with dollars from anti islamic forces.This shows how PURE muslims you are.America have found HAI ALLAH JEE S in so called muslims against those who are resisting US hegamony.

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  • raza
    Jan 13, 2012 - 8:57AM

    Why won’t this paper / channel plaster this all over the tv screens? We need to expose such acts to educate the brainwashed 90% of the population. Still, I know the TV Gods will not do it. We all know why. Shame.

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  • asad
    Jan 13, 2012 - 11:41AM

    So america believes, and to some extent its right, that Pakistanis are fool enough to believe every thing which america has to say…

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  • asad
    Jan 13, 2012 - 11:50AM

    Only Propaganda, U.S is so evil.

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  • Mustafa Khan
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:44PM

    Pakistan are so innocent, coz they are believing on what america is saying. America is top liar of tje world. If america would had done this it would have never disclosed it.. Actually Sunni Ittehad Council is the only party which is not following directions of america and that made america angry and america did this. And the amount is 30k only is ofcourse not the amount which a national party could receive. Why not america disclose its funding to talibans? Recommend

  • Jan 15, 2012 - 1:58PM

    now american wants to hanging Mumtaz qadri america is spreadind dis information about Sunni itthad council cause no one can protest against it

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  • Muhammad Shahram
    Feb 9, 2012 - 10:04AM

    A.O.A
    It is not good to receive money to unstable Pakistan. Pakistan is like a “masjid” for us, so if anyone does wrong, he/she will be bitterly punished by “ALLAH” not only in “Akhrat” but also in this world. May ALLAH save us. Ameen

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  • Tausif
    Feb 11, 2012 - 12:12PM

    Sahibzada Fazal Karim has clearly stated that this is nothing but propaganda against SIC because this is the only party in the country which strongly opposed western policies in the region. No doubt, US is afraid of SIC because it thought that this party is also like JI, JUI by whom it can dictate their demands but when they found that SIC is totally against us then they started

    Recommend

  • Nasrullah Khan Niazi
    Feb 20, 2012 - 4:39AM

    this is what they are doing in Baluchistan to fight against Iran and to putt pressure over Pakistan for getting unlimited benefits from Pakistan

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