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May 9, 2016

HuT mounts pressure on Pak missions to get its activists freed

Top Story

May 9, 2016

Islamabad: The banned Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) has mounted pressure on Pakistani missions abroad to release its activists detained in Pakistan.

A group of HuT workers visited Pakistani missions in Indonesia, Jordan, Tunisia and Sudan last month, calling for end of prosecution of their members who according to them are struggling to establish ‘caliphate’ in Pakistan through use of non-violent methods.

“The officials of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia visited mission and handed over release [communication] along with a list of activists who were allegedly detained by Pakistani’s security agencies without any charges. The three-member delegation also demanded immediate release of these innocent Pakistanis,” read a confidential communication faxed by Pakistani Mission in Jakarta to Foreign Office on April 15. The fax and other confidential communication record is also made available with The News International.

Pakistan banned HuT under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 in 2003 after law enforcement agencies arrested several operators of this organization who were involved in recruitment activities in several institutions, universities in particular.

“In view of HuT’s demand—all stake holders are requested to look into activities of the banned terrorist organization and take appropriate action as required under the Anti Terrorism Act,” Foreign Office in response to above mentioned wrote to Ministry of Interior on April 22. Foreign Affairs Ministry in this special message to ministry of interior has also sought details of members of HuT, allegedly in Pakistani jails. The copy of this letter was also sent to the Inter Services Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau accordingly.

Pleading their case, members of HuT told Pakistani diplomats in Jakarta, Jordan, Sudan and Tunisia that it is not too late for you people to raise voice to right these injustices against HuT. “We leave in your care and trust, a list of some of the advocates of the ‘Khilafah’ that are currently imprisoned or abducted, reminding you of your duty to right the injustice and end the oppression,” read HuT communication handed over to Pakistani diplomats.  

The activists of HuT handed over a list of thirteen key activists who are either in jails of Pakistan or in custody of its intelligence agencies, revealed communication HuT shared with diplomats. They demanded release of Naveed Butt, who has been served as Chief Spokesperson for HuT in Pakistan. He is an engineer by profession and got education in Chicago, United States and now in Kot Lakhpat Jail. Dr Ahmed is another activist who has been reportedly in contact with Brig Ali Khan and four Majors of Pakistani army, who later faced court proceedings in a military court on their alleged contact with HuT years back. Ahmed, who is a medical doctor by profession is said to be in custody of law enforcement agencies. The list also includes names of Zeeshan Akhtar, a textile engineer, Qamar Abbas, professor in Economics, Shehryar Najam, a business expert, Shahzad Ahmed Malik, electronics engineer, Saleem Sethi, a media teacher, Saad Jagranvi, a businessman, Manzar Aziz, businessman, Kamran Sheikh, college lecturer, Asad Jagranvi, school teacher, Arshad Jamal, Information Technology expert and Agha Tahir, a textile engineer.

“The said missions received some unsigned communications of this nature which were passed on to the ministry of interior. Further details may kindly be ascertained from them,” Secretary Foreign Affairs Aizaz Chaudhry confirmed to The News.

Ministry of Interior is taking up this matter after inviting response of foreign office and intelligence agencies on this serious issue, a senior official engaged with the process said. “We take it seriously, even like a warning. We’ll definitely take it up with concerned countries accordingly,” official said who did not want to be named.

Security analyst Muhammad Amir Rana observed that Islamist organization [HuT] has been struggling in many ways to achieve its respective agendas since decades. He, however, does not see any sudden rising influence of HuT in Pakistan. “But it is true that this organization is struggling to gain reasonable space in already radicalized society in Pakistan,” he observed.

Commenting on this serious development, Asif Ezdi, a former ambassador, opined that Foreign Office should take up this issue with the concerned countries sooner than later. Islamabad should tell the host states “how activists of HuT were creating trouble for its diplomats; the organization even is banned in Pakistan,” he observed. “These countries, under UN treaties, are bound to safeguard diplomats’ rights by taking action against such organizations, he observed.

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