- With Eidul Azha coming up, people need to be careful
It is that time of the year when the faithful will sacrifice animals for Eid-ul-Azha and in a spirit of charity, donate the hides of the sacrificial animals to various organizations collecting the hides. Various religious seminaries and charity organizations vie with each other to collect the hides because they are a lucrative multi-million-rupee business. The hides are sold to tanneries, who willingly take the raw hides, process them into fine leather and sell them on to factories producing leather goods, shoes, bags, coats and other garments, which have a great demand in the fashion industry, domestic and international markets. Additionally, hide collection is a money-spinning business worth billions of rupees through export. The activists of political and religious parties, including banned militant organizations, do whatever it takes to ensure they fetch the maximum number of hides to earn profit.
Besides religious seminaries and human rights organizations like Edhi, Chhippa or Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, a number of extremist or militant organizations, which are banned or proscribed attempt to gather the hides to finance their anti-state activities. Organizations like Al-Qaeda, Daesh, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and a number of other outfits, which have been banned by the government, endeavour to collect these lucrative hides for their coffers and pursue their activities against humanity. Notably, in metropolitan cities like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar; various banned outfits changed their names and set up charities to continue collection of hides, putting up banners and posters, appealing for hide donations from public and continue their nefarious deeds.
The real faces of terrorists must also be unveiled to deny their monetary support. People must be informed, especially through the electronic media that charitable hides are actually aimed at helping poor masses, beggars, needy orphans and widows. Let it not end up in proscribed institutions hell bent on wreaking havoc in Pakistan and making women widows and children orphans through their dastardly deeds
The religious institutions have already issued a fatwa (religious edict) that it is forbidden to donate the hides to banned organizations. The Ministry of Interior issues formal No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for the collection of hides. The devout are expected to ensure that the organization to which they are donating the hides of the sacrificial animals, do have a NOC from the Interior Ministry.
It is abhorrent that the message from illicit or illegal organizations for the collection of hides is proliferated through social media, pamphlets, flyers and short text messages on cell phones, to give them a cloak of legality and dupe the citizens.
To what extent this practice distorts Pakistan’s image abroad could be judged from the report of The Guardian which under the caption, “Eid animal slaughter funds Pakistan terror groups,” wrote on 15 September 2016, “Huge numbers of goats, cows and even camels will be slaughtered in Pakistani homes to mark the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Azha…the sacrificial offering of around 6 million animals will allow families to fulfil a religious duty, guarantee some much appreciated meat handouts to the poor…it will also generate an extraordinary cash windfall for some of Pakistan’s most dangerous militant groups. Thinly disguised front organizations have been gearing up to compete against each other and legitimate charities to collect as many animal skins as possible, which can then be sold on for cash…there are fears that very little will be done to stop illegal groups from collecting hides either, particularly as many of them operate under false names…in recent weeks newspapers have carried government advert warning people not to give hides to illegal groups…while most people will give their hides to local mosques or respectable charities, some deliberately give them to militants.”
The police in Pakistan will continue to provide protection to those going to mosques to guard the faithful from suicide bombers and terror attacks, but is imperative that the police and Rangers patrolling the inhabited areas also ensure that the hide collection is carried out by legitimate organizations only. There should be a concerted effort to apprehend illegal entities collecting hides of sacrificed animals.
Following the heinous 16 December 2014 attack on the Army Public School Peshawar, the National Action Plan (NAP) was adopted to combat terrorism. Blocking terror financing is an essential part of Pakistan’s war against terrorism. Pakistan is already struggling to emerge from the dark shadow of having been placed in the Grey List of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The next meeting of the Paris-based FATF is due this fall. The cash-strapped country, with a dwindling economy, is under the FATF microscope. It is imperative that Pakistan avoid being pushed into the Black List, which will have serious implications for its already struggling economy. In case the collected hides reach the desperate clutches of the banned outfits, it will become extremely difficult for the mandarins managing Pakistan’s economy to avoid the cruel jaws of the FATF.
Opinion builders must use all their sources to create an awareness amongst the gullible masses that the armed forces of Pakistan and other security agencies have given countless sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. Peace has been restored in FATA and the other areas of Pakistan after the herculean efforts of the law enforcing agencies. The good work must not be lost this Eidul Azha.
Disrupting terrorists’ financing network is essential to combat terrorism, as without effective check on terrorist financing, the fight against terrorism may not produce desired results. Though the government has taken a number of steps to curb flow of terrorists’ funds, yet it requires an extensive media campaign to create awareness in general public regarding terrorists fund-raising system.
The real faces of terrorists must also be unveiled to deny their monetary support. People must be informed, especially through the electronic media that charitable hides are actually aimed at helping poor masses, beggars, needy orphans and widows. Let it not end up in proscribed institutions hell bent on wreaking havoc in Pakistan and making women widows and children orphans through their dastardly deeds.