Banned or not?!

Banned terrorist organisations are freely operating all over Pakistan without risking the ire of the law enforcement agencies. Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) was banned but changed its name to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) was banned but changed its name to Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and now both these terrorist outfits are carrying on with their activities with impunity. Even if a banned organisation does not change its name, like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) that still operates under its own name, their activities are not stopped. Interior Minister Rehman Malik blames a delay in the approval of an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act for banned organisations’ holding rallies across the country. Apparently the amendment bill is still with the Senate Standing Committee despite the passage of two years. Mr Malik also said that if a banned organisation holds a rally in the capital, the SHO of the concerned police station would be suspended. Now that is a ludicrous idea to say the least. How can an SHO be responsible when the entire state apparatus is either helpless in front of the banned outfits or in cahoots with them?

In most cases, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government blames the Punjab government for having a soft spot for terrorist outfits, especially the JuD and LeJ. Granted that the Punjab government must be held accountable for allowing these organisations and other extremist groups to hold public rallies full of hate speech all over Punjab, but these organisations have also held rallies in Karachi and plan on doing so again. The PPP has a majority government in Sindh, so why is it not stopping them either? The PPP also has to look at itself instead of scoring political points by blaming the Punjab government alone. According to a report by BBC Urdu, intelligence agencies have been tracking new bank accounts by jihadi groups under new names in order to receive funds from within Pakistan and outside the country. These secret accounts must be exposed and shut down immediately. While the political forces as a whole are not doing much to stop the activities of banned outfits, we must not forget that all these organisations were created and nurtured by our military. To date they either have the covert or overt support of the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agencies. When the most powerful institution in the country is behind them, it would definitely be a humongous task to stop their nefarious activities. Thus, it is necessary to pass the amendment bill pending in parliament so that a strong Anti-Terrorism Act can tackle this issue.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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