- JuD spokesperson says will take the matter to the courts
The government of Pakistan has barred Hafiz Saeed’s Jamatud Dawa (JuD) and its charity organisations, as well as several other such organisations named in a list of banned outfits by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) from collecting funds, said a notification issued on Monday.
According to the notification, “The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan hereby prohibits all companies from donating cash to the entities and individuals listed under the UNSC sanctions committee’s consolidated list.”
Besides the JuD, the list also includes Lashkar-e-Taiba itself, the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), the Paasban-e-Ahle-Hadith and Pasban-e-Kashmir, among others.
The notification warned that non-compliance could result in a hefty fine of up to Rs 10 million. “The government has already prescribed a penalty of up to Rs10 million for non-compliance on the sanctions regime being implemented,” it said.
According to a Reuters’ report, the government detailed the plan to put a ban on the JuD’s charity wings in a secret order to various provincial and federal government departments on December 19.
Marked “secret”, a December 19 document from the Finance Ministry directed law enforcement and governments in Pakistan’s five provinces to submit an action plan by Dec 28 for a “takeover” of Saeed’s two charities, JUD and FIF.
The United States has labelled JuD and FIF “terrorist fronts” for Lashkar-e-Taiba (“Army of the Pure” or LeT), a group Saeed founded in 1987 and which Washington and India blame for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.
Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and the Lahore High Court saw insufficient evidence to convict him.
The December 19th document, which refers to “Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issues”, names only Saeed’s two charities and “actions to be taken” against them.
The FATF, which is an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, has warned Pakistan it faces inclusion on a watch list for failing to crack down on financing terrorism.
Asked about a crackdown on JuD and FIF, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who co-chaired one of the meetings on the plan, responded only generally, saying he has ordered authorities “to choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan”.
In a written reply to Reuters, he also said Pakistan wasn’t taking action under US pressure. “We’re not pleasing anyone. We’re working as a responsible nation to fulfil our obligations to our people and the international community.”
JuD TO TAKE MATTER TO THE COURTS: Prior to the confirmation of the report, JuD spokesperson Mujahid Yahya condemned the decision, saying if such action was taken, then the party would move the courts in this regard.
He said that earlier the government had kept JuD chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest, and now they are going to ban the charity wing to “please India”.
The spokesperson claimed that according to the verdicts of the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court, the JuD has not been involved in any extra-legal activities and the courts allowed the party to keep on with the operations of its charity wing across the country.
Reiterating his stance that the government was taking these measures to ‘please’ India, Yahya said the government had kept Hafiz Saeed in house detention for the very same reason under the pretext of so-called UN resolutions.
Accusing the government of acting on the ‘whims’ of the Modi-led Indian government, he said the government was acting like “it’s more loyal to the king than the king”.
Further blaming the government for pro-India measures, he said in the last year, the government had detained Hafiz Saeed over Kashmir cause, and now it has been using the same thing to ban its charity wing.
“The party will not hold back and take the matter to the courts if the government attempt to bar it from indulging in charity,” the spokesperson added.
A MAJOR MOVE:
It is the first time Pakistan has made a major move against Saeed’s network, which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.
Participants at the meeting raised the possibility that the government’s failure to act against the charities could lead to UN sanctions. A UN Security Council team is due to visit Pakistan in late January to review progress against UN-designated “terrorist” groups.
“Any adverse comments or action suggested by the team can have far-reaching implications for Pakistan,” the official said.
The December 19th document gave few details about how the state would take over Saeed’s charities, pending the plans submitted by the provincial governments. It did say it would involve government entities taking over ambulance services and accounting for other vehicles used by the charities.
It says law enforcement agencies will coordinate with Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to identify the assets of the two charities and examine how they raise money.
The document also directs that the name of JuD’s 200-acre headquarters, Markaz-e-Taiba, near the eastern city of Lahore be changed to something else ”to make it known that the Government of “Punjab (province) solely manages and operates the Markaz(headquarters)”.
In August, JuD officials formed a new political party, the Milli Muslim League, and backed candidates who fared relatively strongly in two key parliamentary by-elections.
The JuD publicly disavows armed militancy inside Pakistan, but offers vocal support for the cause of rebel fighters in Indian-administered Kashmir and has called for Pakistan to retake Kashmir. Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the disputed region.
Washington, which has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed’s conviction over the Mumbai attacks, warned Islamabad of repercussions after a Pakistani court in late November released him from house arrest.
Punjab’s provincial government had put Saeed under house arrest for 10 months this year for violating anti-terrorism laws.