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February 19, 2018

Impending crisis stopped PM from banning JuD, FIF

Top Story

February 19, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had decided to take strict action against Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its humanitarian arm Falahi Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) on Jan 1 but he had to reverse his decision after his attention was drawn to another possible political crisis, The News has learnt.

“The prime minister said both the organisations should be banned but Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was of the view that if these organisations were banned at this point, the government would be facing a similar crisis which it faced in November in the shape of Faizabad sit-in by Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi,” two different sources who attended the meeting confirmed to this correspondent. The sit-in had paralyzed the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

In the meeting, PM’s Adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua apprised the prime minister of the possible repercussions of the upcoming Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) meeting that could decide placing Pakistan on the watch list of countries that financially aid terrorism.

After their input, the premier decided to constitute another committee to finalise the decision of taking a strict action against the JuD and FIF. Officials of agencies also attended the meeting but they did not give their views about banning or not banning the two organisations.

A three-member committee, comprising Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, PM’s Adviser on Finance Miftah Ismail and Attorney General Ishtar Ausaf, was formed by the prime minister. After deliberations, the committee decided to resolve the issue through a presidential ordinance bringing an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 enabling the law to freeze all the assets of the organisations banned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

The sources claim Ashtar Ausaf gave the idea of bringing a presidential ordinance to introduce the amendment (to the ATA 1997). “I have always maintained that being a responsible state Pakistan should (unless there are issues which cannot be reconciled) adhere to its international obligations. Our first and foremost commitment is to Pakistan and there is no question of compromising our sovereignty. But when it comes to our international obligations which are in line with our national goals we ought to take remedial measures without loss of time,” Ashtar told this correspondent.

He also admitted that still a notification by the Interior Ministry was required to formally ban both the organisations. Following the Feb 9 presidential ordinance, the federal government formally ordered the freezing of all the assets of Hafiz Saeed-linked JUD and Falahi Insaniyat Foundation across the country without placing them in Schedule I of Anti-Terrorism (ATA) law. The law explicitly defines placement of any organisation into the banned list that is not enabling the police to take any legal action against both the organisations.

“Although, the federal government has decided to freeze the assets of JUD and FIF through the law, it does not empower the provincial police to register cases against their activists, so we’ve taken over their assets but not registered cases against their activists,” a senior officer police officer told this correspondent.

The notification says, “The federal government is pleased to direct that requisite actions with regard to freezing and taking over of assets (movable, immovable and human resource) associated with JUD and FIF shall be taken in pursuance of Ordinance no.ii of 2018,” thus there is no mention of registering cases against their activists. The sources claim that a formal notification of placement of JuD and FIF in Schedule I was still awaited. Without the said notification both the organisations will not be formally admitted as a defunct organization at the federal and provincial levels.

The sources claim that in the same pretext the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has refused to update its list of banned organisations on its website. A high-level meeting, headed by the Nacta chief Ehsan Ghani held at its headquarters on February 15 deliberated the above-mentioned notification of the interior ministry and also pointed out the same flaw in the notification issued by the government.

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