ICMD, March 7, 2019

Pakistan intensified its crackdown against banned outfits on Thursday, with the government announcing it had taken control of 182 religious schools and detained more than 100 people.

The interior ministry said law enforcement agencies have placed 121 people in ‘preventive detention’ as part of the crackdown that began early this week. “Provincial governments have taken in their control management and administration of 182 religious seminaries (madaris),” the ministry said in a statement. It said institutions from different groups have been taken over, including 34 schools or colleges, 163 dispensaries, 184 ambulances, five hospitals and eight offices of banned organisations. “Interior ministry is working closely with the provinces in crackdown on the banned outfits,” the statement added.

Many banned groups run seminaries, which counter-terrorism officials say are used as recruiting grounds for militant outfits. Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which operates hospitals and a fleet of ambulances, is estimated to run about 300 madaris across the country. JuD called the crackdown unfair and said it would seek to counter the government action in courts. “The whole nation is asking that what message the government wants to send by sealing welfare organisations and kicking students out,” said JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid. Officials say the crackdown is part of a long-planned drive and is in accordance with the National Action Plan (NAP).

Govt says it will keep opp in loop over crackdown on banned outfits

The federal government has decided to keep opposition in the loop on the national security issues and affirmed that a broader strategy about action against proscribed outfits will be finalized in consultation with the parliamentary leaders of all the major political parties.

Briefing media after a meeting of the federal cabinet, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said a consensus and national unity existed in the country on the issues of national interest, adding that the cabinet has decided to maintain that spirit in future as well.

Fawad said work on the National Action Plan (NAP) was underway since 2014, but due to certain reasons, it was not in the media focus. He said as far as implementation of NAP is concerned, merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhaw (KP) is a major step. He said under the NAP, it has been made clear that Pakistan will not allow anyone to use its soil against any other country. He said the activities of the proscribed organizations are already banned in the country. However, in order to ensure compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements, additional measures are being taken, he added.