ISLAMABAD: The federal government is reluctant to speak about a reported ban on the Haqqani Network and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), but government officials in private say the development has occurred as part of the progress on the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism.
An official of the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday said JuD and the Haqqani Network have been added to the list of proscribed outfits.
The official told Dawn.com that it was the demand of the United States to ban the Haqqani Network and JuD but that the government is using "delay tactics".
The official said that the recent attack of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants on Army Public School in Peshawar compelled the government to take strict action against all militant organisations without any differentiation of 'good' and 'bad' Taliban.
According to a document available with Dawn.com, the interior ministry included new organisations in the list of proscribed organisations including:
- Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami
- Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation
- Ummah Tameer-e-Nau
- Haji Khairullah Hajji Sattar Money Exchange
- Rahat Limited
- Roshan Money Exchange
- Al Akhtar Trust
- Al Rashid Trust
- Haqqani Network
“During his visit to Islamabad, US Secretary of State John Kerry also appreciated the decision of the government to ban Haqqani Network and Jamat-ud-Dawa,” the official added.
The official also said that the government had already directed relevant departments to take immediate steps to freeze the assets of the banned outfits, which include Haqqani Network and Jamat-ud-Dawa.
The United States has welcomed Pakistan’s decision to ban the groups, terming the move an important step towards eliminating terrorism.
The Express Tribune in a report quoted senior Interior Ministry officials as saying that the groups have been banned.
The Nation today carried a report quoting a government official saying the ban has not taken effect.
The Haqqani Network, founded by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, has been blamed for some of the most deadly attacks on US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan was designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States in September 2012.
The US and India both have always considered JuD, the ‘charity’ organisation run by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, as the sister organisation of banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant outfit facing blame of masterminding 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
When contacted, MQM Senator Col retd Tahir Hussain Mashhadi told Dawn.com that a day before, a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior questioned Muhammad Asghar Chaudhry, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Interior regarding the ban on Haqqani Network and Jamat-ud-Dawa.
“The official of the ministry told the members of the committee that the ministry is keeping Haqqani Network and Jamat-ud-Dawa under observation but he failed to further explain in this regard,” Mashhadi added.
Minister of Information Pervaiz Rasheed said he is not aware of a ban on the groups.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in his last press conference declined to answer a question regarding the ban on Haqqani Network and Jamat-ud-Dawa.
Editorial: Ban on militant groups
In the long, convoluted history of the Pakistani state banning militant groups, the present episode may be the most mysterious: a US government spokesperson has publicly and explicitly welcomed a decision by Pakistan to ban several more militant groups, even though absolutely no one in government here has made any such announcement.
If US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf’s assertion in a news briefing on Friday proves true — “We welcome [the decision] to outlaw the Haqqani network, Jamaatud Dawa, and I think about 10 other organisations linked to violent extremism,” Ms Harf is quoted as saying — it would demonstrate that the bad old days of Pakistani leaders treating external powers as more relevant and important in matters of national security than, say, the Pakistani public or parliament have never really gone away.
Know more: US praises ban on Haqqanis
Even more problematically, the latest move — if, indeed, it is announced soon, as Ms Harf has claimed it will be — would bolster the perception that Pakistan is fighting militancy at the behest of others, especially the US, and not because this is a war that this country must fight and win for its own survival.
There is no doubt that the Pakistani state needs to do more against a much wider spectrum of militant and extremist groups operating its soil.
Focusing on simply the so-called anti-Pakistan militant networks such as the TTP will only produce medium-term results, perhaps, but guarantees long-term failure in the fight against militancy. This is both because of the overlapping nature of militant groups — operational, strategic and ideological — and because a long-term future where the state is in competition with militias for predominance inside Pakistan is not a future that ought to be acceptable to anyone in this country.
Also read: A paradigm shift?
So yes, the Haqqani network needs to be banned as does the Jamaatud Dawa and sundry more names that may come to light soon. But without a zero-tolerance policy against militancy, there will be no winning strategy.
Zero tolerance certainly does not mean simply military operations and heavy-handed counterterrorism measures in the urban areas; what it does suggest is a commitment to progressively disarm and dismantle militant groups and the wider extremist network that enables those groups to survive and thrive.
Of course, simply banning more groups will not mean much unless the previous bans are implemented, the new bans cover all incarnations of a militant group, and there are sustained efforts by the law-enforcement and intelligence apparatus to ensure banned organisations do not quietly regroup once the initial focus fades. That has never happened before.
And the present is even more complicated. What will a ban on the Haqqani network mean in practice given that the major sanctuary in North Waziristan has already been disrupted by Operation Zarb-e-Azb? What will banning the JuD mean for the Falahi Insaniyat Foundation? Will the government offer answers — to anything?