As the Foreign Office said Thursday that the bank accounts of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) have been frozen and foreign travel restrictions imposed on the organisation's leader Hafiz Saeed, JuD in its official response said it would continue its "charity work" across Pakistan regardless.
The official reaction emailed out by JuD accused Pakistan of having banned the organisation under pressure from the US to "please India".
The JuD spokesperson defended the group, saying the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court had issued verdicts in favour of allowing JuD to operate in the past. Based on these verdicts, JuD vowed to continue on its mission.
Earlier, JuD members told Dawn.com that the party leadership would approach the Supreme Court to challenge the ban. A JuD member, who requested anonymity, maintained that the group has only been engaged in charitable work for the past several years across the country.
Another member of the organisation said if the government decided to take any action against JuD's charity's work, then the organisation would move the apex court which had given it a "clean chit" in the past.
The Supreme Court in May 2010 upheld a Lahore High Court order of releasing Hafiz Saeed, who is accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk dismissed appeals filed by the federal and Punjab governments citing their failure to produce incriminating evidence against Hafiz Saeed.
“We do appreciate that the world has changed after the event of 9/11 and that people are being detained at Bagram prison in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or Poland, but there is a burden on us that we could not allow detention on speculations since our Constitution guarantees certain rights to people like liberty and access to fair trial,” Justice Jawad S. Khwaja, a member of the bench, observed in 2010.
“Should we throw out all rights merely because someone in the Punjab secretariat is saying differently?” the judge had asked.
Justice Nasirul Mulk had observed that Hafiz Saeed was not a convicted person and not under detention, but had been in preventive custody since Dec 12, 2008.
The self-styled charity organisation has been outlawed for the second time today, a move its members say is the result of international pressure and the recent visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan.
FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam, however, underscored today that Pakistan's decision was driven by UN obligations and not under pressure from any other quarter, including John Kerry.
India and the United States had since long been demanding that JuD chief Hafiz Saeed be taken to task for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Along with the JuD, the Haqqani Network has also been banned. The latter, founded by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, has been blamed for some of the most deadly attacks on US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan and was designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States in September 2012.
"It was expected that the government will ban the Haqqani Network and JuD with the Zarb-i-Azab operation under way in North Waziristan but the deadly Taliban assault on Peshawar's Army Public School on December 16 compelled the government to put both groups in the list of banned outfits,” former interior secretary Tasneem Noorani told Dawn.
Noorani said it seemed that the government was extremely serious about countering militancy — without differentiating between good and bad terrorists — which he said was apparent when the Pakistan Army launched military operations in North Waziristan.
“With the ban in place, the JuD leadership will be unable to organise any kind of function to promote their agenda and will be unable to perform charity work across the country,” Noorani said.
“It is necessary for the government to take action, but I personally believe that it will be difficult for the government to stop JuD's activities across the country,” he claimed.
The former secretary said he did not think that the government was taking these steps due to pressure from the US or India.
"People like Hafiz Saeed are fond of travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj or Umrah but he will be unable to travel after the ban," said Security Analyst and Executive Director Executive Director of Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies Muhammad Amir Rana.
"In the past, JuD managed to get a clean chit from the apex court due to its leadership claiming that the organisation was only involved in charitable work across the country; hence it was necessary for the government to ban organisations which are being led by those who remained heads of banned outfits in the past,” he added.
“I don't think the government's decision to freeze JuD's assets will be helpful because the organisation was already collecting funds using the name of Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation; a charity organisation which was banned by the government,” the security expert claimed.
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Rana was of the view that the government needs to create awareness among masses through media and exhibit a thick-skinned approach in order to implement its decision.