Pakistan attorney general says another notification needed to ban JuD, FiF
The notification for seizing the assets of the JuD and FIF did not place the groups in Schedule I of the Anti-Terrorism Act, a legal requirement for a formal ban.world Updated: Feb 19, 2018 22:30 IST
The Pakistan government will have to issue another notification to formally ban the JuD and FIF despite the amendment of the Anti-Terrorism Act to list groups sanctioned by the UN Security Council, attorney general Ashtar Ausaf Ali has said.
After the president issued an ordinance on February 9 to amend the law to list groups such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, the interior ministry issued a notification the following day to freeze and take over the assets of both the groups.
However, Ali told The News daily that a notification from the interior ministry is required to formally ban both groups.
The notification for seizing the assets of the JuD and FIF, both linked to alleged Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, did not place the groups in Schedule I of Anti-Terrorism Act, a legal requirement for a formal ban. Since this formality has not been completed, the police too cannot take legal action against both groups, the daily reported.
“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 police officer told The News.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) too has refused to update its list of banned groups. A meeting chaired by Nacta chief Ehsan Ghani on February 15 discussed the interior ministry’s notification and pointed out the “same flaw” in the order.
The daily also reported that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had initially decided to take strict action against the JuD and FIF in January but had to “reverse his decision” after interior minister Ahsan Iqbal pointed out that a ban on the groups could lead to a political crisis like the one in November, when the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi had paralysed Islamabad with a sit-in protest.
The premier’s adviser on finance Miftah Ismail and foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua too informed Abbasi of the possible repercussions of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) plenary meeting in Paris following a demand by the US, the UK, France and Germany to place Pakistan in the “grey list” for not doing enough to counter terror financing.
The FATF meeting began on Sunday and will end on February 23.
Abbasi then formed a committee comprising interior minister Iqbal, Miftah Ismail and attorney general Ali to look into the matter of taking action against the JuD and FIF. The committee decided to resolve the issue through a presidential ordinance to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act so that the assets of groups sanctioned by the UN Security Council could be frozen.
Ali suggested that a presidential ordinance should be issued to change the terror law.
“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,” Ali said.