The federal government on Monday decided to formally ban Ansar-ul-Islam, the “militant wing” of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), according to media reports.
As the date for joint opposition’s Azadi March draws closer, the federal government is taking visible steps to thwart the protesters’ strategy, and the recent development appears to be a part of its efforts.
Reportedly, a three-page summary was moved by the Interior Ministry in this regard on October 18 and on Monday, the federal cabinet formally accorded approval to it just a day before it is set to meet.
In its summary sent to the cabinet, the ministry had said, “Various source reports shared by our intelligence agencies and provincial governments with the Ministry of Interior [have] revealed that the JUI-F has established a militant wing, a private militia/Razakar force named ‘Ansar-ul-Islam’ to provide security to marchers for the Azadi March scheduled for October 27, 2019 and proposed sit-in in Islamabad from October 31, 2019.”
It had also said that Ansar-ul-Islam is capable of functioning as a military organisation, which is a violation of Article 256 of the Constitution.
“Ansar-ul-Islam was organised, trained and equipped and it was capable of being used to display physical force in promoting Azadi March and objectives of the JUI-F,” the ministry further stated.
The summary highlighted that the uniformed force, carrying batons and sticks with wrapped barbed wire under a politico-religious party, apparently aims at challenging the writ of the government.
It also said that the rehearsals and march pasts carried out by the said force during a workers convention recently held in Peshawar, pledging allegiance to the top JUI-F leadership, has stirred fear among the general public and it is being seen as a private armed militia/combating force to confront the law enforcement agencies.
Explaining the possible danger posed by the militant wing of JUI-F, the ministry father said, “It is feared that the said private militant force, reportedly around 80,000 all over Pakistan, may sabotage public peace and create disorder and anarchy across the country during the planned Azadi March and other political activities by JUI-F.”
The interior ministry had also expressed concerns that the private militia could be equipped with other objects, including arms and ammunition. Ansar-ul-Islam posed a real, present and severe threat to the peace and tranquillity of Islamabad and the four provinces, it added.
Referring to the National Action Plan (NAP) and Article 146(1) of the Constitution, it had asked the federal cabinet to authorise it to seek consent from the provinces so that the process of abolishing / banning Ansar-ul-Islam could be initiated.
According to reports, this decision was taken earnestly to avoid discussing the issue in Tuesday’s meeting. Last week, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan had said that the federal cabinet would take up the matter in its next meeting.
Usually, a summary is sent to all cabinet members who sign the copy to give their approval, but the summary is also deemed approved after a stipulated period of time even if some members of the cabinet haven’t signed it.
It is worth mentioning here that on Sunday, the federal government had decided in principle to prevent the JUI-F sit-in by taking various steps, which included the possibility of detaining the top leadership of JUI-F.
A local news outlet had reported that if the negotiations between the party and the government failed, the law enforcement agencies might detain JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman along with the key leadership of the party.