Islamabad: The role of the country’s intelligence agencies and a policy of patronising selected proscribed groups came under discussion in the upper house of parliament on Wednesday as the government announced that it had put Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) charity of Hafiz Saeed on a list of ‘suspected’ organisations.
“The JuD has been put on the list of suspected organisations and appropriate action will be taken against it if it (the organisation) is found involved in any activity other than charity work,” State Minister for Interior Baleeghur Rehman told senators.
He reminded the house that the JuD was banned in 2008 and later in 2010 had been allowed to continue its charity work following a Lahore High Court ruling. “However, the ministry of interior was monitoring its activities,” he added.
PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar had raised the issue, saying permitting banned outfits to resurrect under different names ostensibly as charity organisations undermined the state’s credibility in fighting militancy.
He said the law clearly provided that no banned organisation would be allowed to resurrect and there was no ambiguity in the law. “The government on July 7 had promised to share the LHC judgment but it never happened till date prompting us to assume that “the LHC has perhaps not given the JuD permission to operate,” he added.
He said the issue had become even more urgent after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s dissociation from Pakistan-brokered peace talks with the Afghan Taliban alleging that the government of Pakistan did not have the same definition of terrorism in regard to Afghanistan.
“Are these so-called charities allowed to function to serve as pressure groups on the elected government and parliament or they are meant to advance some security and foreign policy goals through non-state actors,” Senator Babr asked.
He insisted that the impunity enjoyed by these people gave rise to suspicion that they have the protection of some invisible forces and agencies. “We are not sincerely chasing militant organisations of all hues,” he added.
Senator Babar recalled a speech by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto back in 2002 where she blamed the former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf of ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’. “It seems we are still doing the same,” he said while warning about the ramifications of this approach.
Defending the intelligence agencies and policies of the government, Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qayyum advised Senator Babar “not to doubt his own establishment.” He also suggested that trusting Afghan officials’ statements and mistrusting our own government was unfair.