'Banned' JuD thrives in Pakistan

Published: February 10, 2015
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. PHOTO: AFP

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. PHOTO: AFP

MURIDKE: It is listed as a terror outfit by the UN and its chief has a $10 million US government bounty against him, but Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) operates freely across country, testing Islamabad’s new resolve to tackle militancy.

The leadership of Pakistan vowed to end its tolerance of so-called “good” militants after a Taliban massacre at a school in Peshawar in December that killed 153 people, the worst terror attack in the country’s history.

The government’s list of 60 or so banned organisations features the country’s Taliban and secessionist rebels from Balochistan province, but the state has long shied away from action against groups fighting abroad in India or Afghanistan.

International powers including the US and India consider JuD to be no more than a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead.

But JuD denies any link to violence, and within Pakistan the organisation enjoys a high degree of popularity for the work of its charitable arm, particularly after natural disasters.

Following a UN Security Council resolution, the leadership of Pakistan said it had frozen the group’s assets after the Mumbai attacks – an undertaking it has repeated in recent weeks.

But at JuD’s headquarters, a sprawling high-security complex nestled among rice fields in the town of Muridke, north of Lahore, little seems to have changed.

Doctor Akhtar Hussain, a wizened old man with a long grey beard and a broad smile, heads the al Aziz Hospital in the heart of the complex which also houses schools where boys and girls study both JuD and official government textbooks.

Like the Palestinian group Hamas and Hezbollah of Lebanon, JuD has set up a network of health and education facilities across Pakistan, including five hospitals, 200 dispensaries, ambulance services and 250 schools.

When AFP visited al Aziz hospital, elderly women were lining up in a white corridor for eye tests.

“Laser eye surgery is free,” said Hussain. Further ahead, two dentists worked their way through their daily quota of 40 patients each.

The cost of treatment for a root canal is Rs50.

“It is a fraction of the price. In a private hospital I would pay at least 1,000 rupees,” said patient Rana Khaliqur Rehman.

After an earthquake or floods, JuD’s relief wing, the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), is often among the first aid groups on the ground.

JuD leader Hafiz Saeed – on whom the US has placed a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture – is often seen in the front line handing out food.

Despite the bounty, he also leads a high-profile public life and regularly delivers fiery anti-India speeches. He led thousands of supporters in a rally in Lahore last Thursday to mark Kashmir Day, under the eye of a heavy police contingent outside the city’s high court.

“The politicians don’t understand our problems, but the Jamaat does and helps us,” said Saddam Sohail, a 25-year-old builder who is hostile towards neighbouring India, like most JuD followers.

“When the US says JuD are terrorists, it makes my blood boil,” added Ghulam Sarwar, a 55-year-old farmer.

Founded in the 1980s to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan, LeT reinvented itself in the 1990s for “jihad” in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory that India and Pakistan control in part but claim in full and have fought two wars over.

Today, once again, the LeT is sending fighters to Afghanistan’s eastern Nuristan province, according to Afghan officials cited in a UN report.

LeT recruits most of its members from Punjab, where the level of education is higher than the national average, according to a study on the lives of deceased fighters published by the West Point military academy.

For Arif Jamal, author of a recent study on JuD, the popularity of the outfit rests on its stance on Kashmir and its charitable work, two elements that distinguish it from the rest of the main militant groups of Pakistan.

Its charitable wing is like a “shield” which protects JuD, Jamal told AFP.

“They have fundraised more through charity than other means and they recruited more people through charity than other means,” he said.

JuD’s position on the Kashmir conflict – regarded even by many moderate citizens as a just fight against Indian oppression – means they are not considered as a terrorist group, Jamal said.

Even politicians privately opposed to the organisation will never publicly speak out against it.

“Unless JuD spins out of their control, I don’t think they will ever target it, and that I don’t see happening in the near future,” Jamal said.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (20)

  • Sara
    Feb 10, 2015 - 10:28AM

    Pet the snake and wait till it fatally kills you.Recommend

  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Feb 10, 2015 - 10:51AM

    MURIDKE: It is listed as a terror outfit by the UN and its chief has a $10 million US government bounty against him, but Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) operates freely across country, testing Islamabad’s new resolve to tackle militancy.
    How long Pakistani leadership will speak the language of India and US of defining the terrorism and terrorist groups?No any evidences are given by India yet till now even by the investigation against JuD and why India and US are emphasizing on banning the JuD and its activities in Pakistan and how shamefully Pakistani leadership is following the Indian and US’ leaderships’ directions to please and rejoice them????Recommend

  • Feroz
    Feb 10, 2015 - 11:23AM

    When history is written about the rise and fall of Pakistan, JUD will be named as a significant player. Murderers are unlikely to be pardoned by the Almighty, since HE cannot be bribed by charity or other means. the world is full of fools who fool none but themselves. To believe that Pakistan will ever root out terrorism is to delude oneself, really saddened that future generations are the ones who will play the price for the follies of their forefathers.Recommend

  • QRJ
    Feb 10, 2015 - 11:23AM

    I wish Hafiz Saeed good health and success. Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:07PM

    Ajit doval must be miserableRecommend

  • Parvez
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:12PM

    This shows how sincere the government’s National Action Plan really is.Recommend

  • Malatesh
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:27PM

    Good luck Pakistan..
    We are on our way and you are on your own way. Remember one thing, JUD harmed more to Pakistan than it harmed to India. Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:31PM

    There are so many fundamental problems with this country. I mean when the whole nation is brainwashed against ‘kuffaar’ and India through govt media and textbooks, only thing this leads to is militant cukture aiming to eradicate the infedels off this earth. The state of affairs in this country makes me sad and whats surprising is that most people dont even know whats wrong with this countryRecommend

  • Jashan
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:41PM

    With well wishers like you, who needs enemies in Pakistan? Instead of nation building, Pakistan is mired in feeding snakes who are bound to one day turn against the very masters who fed and nurtured such deadly creatures. You should not be surprised why Pakistan joins the league of rogue nations such as Somalia, Sudan, North Korea, Yemen, etc. You are in good company. Recommend

  • Borderline
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:57PM

    The biggest problem Pakistan is facing today is not TTP or Power Crisis or Petrol Crisis or Taliban. It is Hafeez Sayeed who has become a monster. Neigher Military not civilian govenment does not know how to contain him. Hafeez sayeed is going to be a biggest head ache for Pakistan in the coming days…Recommend

  • In the name of love (what more)
    Feb 10, 2015 - 1:09PM

    I think Pakistan Govt. is foolish and incompetent. The more they use and support those who use bloodbath as their tool to find a solution to kashmir, less credible they become internationally. This is what has been happening. The world thinks Pakistan of a country that supports terrorism and therefore, no one, not even the middle east, supports Pakistan on Kashmir. This is when Pakistan itself looks for international support on kashmir. The only way for pakistan is to stop funding violence into kashmir, gain international credibility, and iam sure the western powers would slowly start to take pakistan seriously at international forums. The more Pakistan continue with jihad, more isolated it’ll get and more it’ll invite india and US to interfere in Baluchistan. Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2015 - 1:32PM

    You said Ajit Doval must be miserable and that is the crux of the philosophy that fuels the Pakistani establishment’s policy which the world clearly sees as self-destructive.

    You take consolation from the fact that one individual Ajit Doval wil be miserable completely ignoring the children, women and men dying every day across Pakistan. Recommend

  • Asok
    Feb 10, 2015 - 1:50PM

    Aschraful and QRJ, please explain why you love JUD so much.Recommend

  • Gp65
    Feb 10, 2015 - 3:26PM

    PML-N who provided funds to JuD in the Punjab budget has never been serious about acting against JuD. Their NSA even said that Pakistan wold only target those terrorists that targetted Pakistan. But then is the government or military in charge of the NAP?

    The question one asks is what is Raheel Sharif doing. He is the one going around world capitals telling people that Pakistan is now not going to distinguish between good/bad terrorists. He is the one that pushed the military courts through. If he does the same thing that Kayani and Musharraf did i.e. say one thing and do another, his credibility with foreign governments will be no different from his predeessors. After all, even Kayani had led an operation in Swat, SWA, hence leading an operation does not distinguish him from his predecessors. Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 10, 2015 - 7:38PM

    Thse operations killed 4000 soldiers, maimed 14000 somthing. You are soo thickRecommend

  • Asif
    Feb 10, 2015 - 7:40PM

    “Anyone who kills any other human being unless it be for murder or for spreading corruption in the land, it is as though he has killed whole of humanity.” Islam doesn’t justify killing of innocent human beings. Simply, there is no room for JuD to be remained in existence, in every category.Recommend

  • zara
    Feb 10, 2015 - 8:57PM

    I think he got miserable hence your responseRecommend

  • Hoha
    Feb 10, 2015 - 10:22PM

    Seems that most people want to follow India and USA’s wishes here. Is anyone thinking about Pakistan and Pakistani. Why do we need to hear opinions of enemy or a hot and cold superpower. We need to decide for ourselves as muslim brothers and sisters. We can not bowed down to wishes of others. We should support those who help our people during natural disasters and build schools and hospitals for our people. Recommend

  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Feb 11, 2015 - 10:46AM

    “@Asok:please explain why you love JUD so much.”
    Would you explain that your one defence minister in his speech that RSS and BJP are running terrorists camps.Why do you love BJP and RSS???Recommend

  • the eddy
    Feb 11, 2015 - 3:20PM

    @Aschraful Makhlooq:
    But are those terrorists attacking you or have ever attacked you physically . Recommend

More in Pakistan