Ban to protect, ban to protect: Pakistan and its long history of eyewashes
New Delhi, Oct 11: Ahead of the crucial FATF meet four persons closely associated with Lashkar-e-Tayiba chief, Hafiz Saeed were arrested in Pakistan.The four were identified as Zafar Iqbal, Hafiz Aziz, Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam.
Pakistan, it may be recalled had booked several cases against the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's financial wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawah. These actions look like Pakistan is making last ditch attempts to avoid being blacklisted by the FATF, which is meeting between October 12 to 15.
India does not read much into these actions and say that Pakistan would take ad-hoc measures to escape the world's wrath. We have seen several times in the past such actions being taken. It is all back to square one after that.
Pakistan has this tendency to protect its terrorists under the cover of a ban and it had taken similar action following the 26/11 attack. However the Lashkar-e-Tayiba did not stop its activities, the official explained.
Pakistan's action against the JuD and also the Falah-e-Insaniyat also being run by Saeed has been taken in the backdrop of a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force in Paris that is reviewing Pakistan's steps to counter terror financing.
India also took note of the fact that no such action has been taken against the Jaish-e-Mohammad, which was involved in the Pathankot, Uri, Nagrota and Pulwama attacks.
There have been bans in the past, but the Jamaat-ud-Dawa has managed to over come it in various ways.
Both the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court had cleared the JuD in the past and allowed it to operate. While the bans have been in place in the past as well, the JuD has always managed to overcome it either by going to court or carrying out its activities by coming up with newer outfits.
The JuD is the parent group of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. However in the year 2000, there was another parent group of the Lashkar which was known as the Markaz Dawa wal-Irshad. This was the group that carried out the alleged charity work and raised funds for the Lashkar.
Those were early days of the Lashkar and the Markaz had played a vital role in funding it. However in the year 2002, the Markaz was banned for funding terror activities. Did it make any difference? Not at all and Saeed immediately floated the JuD. Similarly Saeed floated the FeF after the JuD was banned.
Following the 26/11 attack, investigators in India found the funding of the attack to have been carried out by the JuD. There was international pressure and this forced a ban on the JuD. In fact the then interior minister, Rehman Malik had informed that the JuD had been banned with immediate effect.
Although the statement sounded strong, Pakistan was not going to take any chances and directly confront the JuD. It did not impose the ban directly but asked various authorities such as the UN to impose sanctions on the JuD.
Paksitan's eye wash was evident in the year 2008. It sealed 100 offices of the JuD and even Saeed was placed under house arrest only to be released later. During all this Pakistan made a shocking statement in which it stated that there was no need to issue any notification banning the JuD when the UN has already added it to the list of banned outfits.
There was some more eye wash by Pakistan. It claimed that it had sealed the 200 acre campus of the JuD in Murdike. It also stated that an administrator in Pakistan had taken over the operational facility of the JuD.
All this led to the JuD seeking legal recourse. The petition drafted by top bureaucrats of Pakistan sought a directive to first release Saeed who was under house arrest. The court allowed the petition and in the days to come even the ban on the JuD was lifted.
It is quite surprising that the Pakistan government was asked to return the property of the JuD and also its other assets when there was never any official notification
The Jud empire:
The JuD has a sprawling campus at Murdike spread over 200 acres of land. It has teaching facilities catering to 3000 students and also residential complexes. The investigations post 26/11 showed that the ten terrorists were housed in this complex and underwent training over here.
The funds according to investigators came in from Saudi Arabia right from 1998 and till date the majority of the funding is from there. With the help of these funds the JuD has been accused of recruiting youth from Kashmir and Pakistan and train them to undertake strikes against India.
Further it has also been found that the JuD in a bid to attract possible recruits from southern Punjab also held camps in Kasur district. This particular camp had come under the radar of the Indian agencies.
The fact that the JuD enjoys the complete backing of the military can be seen in various instances. Following the Quetta earthquake the JuD was openly seen assisting the military in relief works.
This was quite surprising as Pakistan had claimed that it had banned the JuD. Even when former President Pervez Musharaff had claimed to have curbed the outfit and clipped its wings, he was no where to be seen or heard when Saeed held a rally in Lahore at the same time.