Govt takes over Lahore headquarters of Hafiz Saeed-led terror group Jamaat-ud-Dawa: Pakistan
In its continuing action against terror and proscribed organisations, the Pakistan Punjab’s government on Thursday took over the Lahore headquarters of both the Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) and its wing Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) as part of the objectives to be achieved under the National Action Plan (NAP). Both JuD and FIF were added to the list of organisations proscribed in Pakistan on March 5.
In a statement, the Punjab home department said that it had taken over the headquarters of the JuD and the FIF and that it had taken over the madrassas and facilities of the banned groups, adding that the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) was being sped up.
Under the crackdown on banned groups, a total of 121 people detained and nearly 400 facilities operated by the organisations were taken over across the country, till Thursday.
The action against groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa was launched on Tuesday against the backdrop of mounting international pressure on Pakistan to counter the activities of terrorists operating from its soil following the Pulwama suicide bombing, which was claimed by JeM.
The interior ministry said in a statement “law enforcement agencies have taken 121 people under preventive detention as of” Thursday. Provincial governments had taken over the management and administration of 182 seminaries, 34 schools and colleges, 163 dispensaries, 184 ambulances, five hospitals and eight offices, it said.
“The operation against proscribed organisations is an ongoing process and continues under National Action Plan (NAP) 2014. Interior ministry is actively working in coordination with provincial governments and law enforcing agencies,” the statement said.
A meeting of Corps Commanders chaired on Thursday by Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa discussed the crackdown. Bajwa called for a “continued state of vigilance and alertness so as to be prepared for response to any threat”, a military statement said. He called for further efforts to “accelerate implementation of NAP while rendering full assistance to other state institutions”.
On Tuesday, minister of state for interior Shehryar Afridi said 44 members of banned groups had been detained, including JeM chief Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and son Hammad Azhar. There has been no official word on the status of Azhar, though foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has confirmed he is in Pakistan.
Media reports said the crackdown was largely focused on JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, both fronts of Lashkar-e-Taiba. Both groups were banned by Pakistan on Tuesday.
The reports said provincial governments had taken over scores of JuD and FIF facilities in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta. Punjab province has formed special police teams to work with security agencies for the drive, the reports added.
The Auqaf department posted administrators at the facilities and imams of mosques were removed and replaced with other clerics. Officials said the staff of other facilities will be retained only if they are cleared by security agencies. Authorities replaced signboards of JuD and FIF with those of district administrations. “Now all these institutions would be running under the district administration,” a senior official said.
Indian officials said they were monitoring the crackdown in line with a decision to work with the world community to maintain pressure on Pakistan to deliver on its international counter-terrorism commitments. They continued to be sceptical of the action taken so far, saying it appeared to be a repeat of the crackdowns seen after the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2016 terror strike on Pathankot airbase.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said tensions with India had reduced and the threat of war had been eliminated. The meeting of Corps Commanders said the military is determined to defend Pakistan “against any misadventure or aggression”.