Pakistan has decided to ban 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Haqqani Network amid growing international pressure to prove the government’s commitment to weed out terror groups operating from its soil.
The UN Security Council designated the JuD, a charitable organisation known for its rabid jihadist agenda, as a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror outfit after the 26/11 attacks that left 166 people dead.
But 64-year-old Saeed, who founded the LeT in the 1990s, operates openly in the country and leads a high-profile life despite a $10 million US government bounty offered for his capture. He regularly appears on TV and addresses large public gatherings, delivering inflammatory speeches against India and the United States.
Saeed said he would challenge the decision by the government. “We are a welfare organisation and this is being done at the behest of the Indian lobby,” he said.
Officials in the interior ministry said a formal announcement to ban a dozen terror outfits, including the JuD and similar charitable organisations having links with terrorists, would be made after prime minister Nawaz Sharif returns from Saudi Arabia later this week.
The decision came after US secretary of state John Kerry asked Pakistan this week to fight the LeT as well as other terror groups and show tangible results in its counter-terrorism operations to ensure continued American funding.
Pakistan banned 12 new organisations days before Kerry visited Pakistan this week. With this latest addition, the number will stand at 72.
Officials said banning an organisation hardly helps because they keep resurfacing under different names. Around 23 banned organisations were functioning under pseudonyms, such as the Jaish-e-Muhammad which operates as Khuddam-e-Islam or Al Rahmat Trust.
“There is no legal framework under which we can stop the activities of allied organisations,” said analyst Asad Kharal.
The Haqqani Network has been blamed for the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul in 2008.