ISLAMABAD: Having run out of excuses, the government on Thursday banned the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Haqqani Network and also froze the JUD’s bank accounts. It also placed foreign travel restrictions on Hafiz Saeed who heads the JuD.
“Pakistan is taking these steps for its own sake, for the protection of its own people and to eradicate terrorism from the country once and for all. The JuD and some other organisations are listed (as terrorists) by the United Nations. Pakistan, as a member of the United Nations, is under obligation to proscribe the entities and individuals that are listed,” the Foreign Office spokesperson announced at a media briefing.
Immediately afterwards, the JuD announced that it would approach the Supreme Court (SC) to challenge the ban as it claims it is a charity. The ban comes just days before President Barrack Obama’s visit to New Delhi. For quite some time, both the US and India have asked Pakistan to ban the JuD and the Haqqani Network. In fact, Hafiz Saeed has been accused by both the countries of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
However, the FO spokesperson rejected the notion that Pakistan had taken these steps on the request of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Islamabad recently and who publicly criticised both these militant organisations. She said that the National Action Plan had been under discussion, and it had nothing to do with the visit by the US secretary of state.
“We take our obligations very seriously and try to meet these obligations scrupulously. Once any individuals and organisations are proscribed by the UN, we are required to freeze their assets and enforce travel restrictions. We take that action. Bank accounts of such entities and individuals are frozen after an SRO is issued,” she explained.While the Haqqani Network has also been banned, the organisation does not have bank accounts in Pakistan.
Turning to Obama’s India visit, the spokesperson said that as a global power and a power that is very much engaged with this region and is interested in peace and stability, Pakistan expects that the US president will take up the issue of the recent escalation of hostilities by India on the Line of Control and the working boundary in which many innocent Pakistanis and Kashmiris have been martyred.
“At a time when Pakistan is in the midst of a very robust and broad operation against terrorists in North Waziristan, this kind of distraction can only mean one thing that there are people who would not like to see Pakistan succeed and that is not in the interest of any one, that is not in the interest of US, India and the international community,” she added.
Asked about Indian media reports on alleged attacks from Pakistan during Obama’s visit, the spokesperson said she found these accusations quite comical. “I would remind (you) that it was claimed on occasion of US President Clinton’s visit that Pakistani terrorists had infiltrated and killed Sikhs in Chittisinghpura in Indian-occupied Kashmir. An independent commission formed subsequently at the insistence of Sikh community investigated the incident and concluded that the so-called terrorists from Pakistan were five Kashmiri youth who were picked up from homes, shot and their bodies were burnt and then buried. This was done by the Indian security forces just to create a spectre of terrorism on the eve of US president’s visit. Is this the kind of attack the Indian media is talking about?” she asked.
“Secondly, we have seen reports that four Muslims were burnt in India. Violent incidents motivated by religion, irrespective of where they occur, are shocking and a flagrant violation of basic human rights. We note with concern the rise of such violence against Muslims in India. It is our hope that the Indian government would take stern action against the perpetrators of such heinous crimes,” she cautioned.
Rejecting the impression that the UN had sent officials to check Pakistan’s readiness against the IS, the spokesperson said that these were continuing consultations. “The United Nations has been very active in counterterrorism efforts. The UN Security Council adopted a number of resolutions covering various aspects of terrorism and requiring measures by members of the international community to curb and eradicate terrorism. The UN mechanisms created through these resolutions hold regular consultations with member states and as a member of international community, Pakistan is also involved in these consultations,” she explained.
Regarding India’s decision to close down the offices of PIA in New Delhi, the spokesperson said PIA had consulted a local legal expert and submitted its response to the RBI with a copy sent to the Enforcement Directorate of India. The issue has also been taken up by the Pakistani Mission and Ministry of Foreign Affairs with MEA and Indian High Commission, respectively.
“A separate issue faced by two-member PIA staff in New Delhi is that their visas, which expired last week, have not been renewed. The Mission has taken up the issue with the Ministry of External Affairs, who has promised to resolve the issue of visas”, she said.
INP adds: Commenting on US President Barrack Obama’s statement about taking unilateral action against terrorists, FO Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said Pakistan had stressed that all anti-terrorism efforts should be within the parameters of international laws.
She said, “We appreciate the United States for expressing solidarity with us on the Peshawar tragedy. However, as regards countering terrorism, action should be in line with the international laws and cooperation amongst members of international community.”
When asked about the presence of Islamic State elements in Pakistan, she said, “We are alert to the threat of the outfit and Pakistan is already carrying out an across-the-board operation against all terrorists.”
The spokesperson once again strongly condemned the publication of sacrilegious sketches in a French magazine. She said the adviser on foreign affairs had addressed a letter to the secretary general of the OIC asking him to initiate action to criminalise the publication of blasphemous sketches as was the case in holocaust. These publications have hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world.
Tasnim questioned if the denial of holocaust could be criminalised, then why it could not happen in the case of Muslims where the most sacred personality of Islam had repeatedly been insulted.
About relations with Afghanistan, Tasnim Aslam said, “We have been able to establish cooperative relations with the neighbouring country over the past few months.” She said that both the countries were in close contact and cooperating with each other in counterterrorism efforts.