LAHORE: Acting swiftly on a notification issued by the federal government, Punjab has started taking over all the moveable and immovable assets of the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) operating in the province.

The JuD’s famous Muridke Markaz along with its various schools, seminaries and health facilities was also taken over on Wednesday. There were similar reports from everywhere else in the province, as well as in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The action is being taken in pursuance of an ordinance issued by President Mamnoon Hussain last week, amending the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, and allowing the state to proscribe UNSC-listed organisations, some of which had been exempt from prosecution.

The move comes in the backdrop of a plenary meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental money-laundering watchdog, which will consider a US-sponsored motion to place Pakistan on a list of countries failing to prevent terrorism financing.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah says a recent notification issued by the interior ministry reveals that JuD and FIF could no longer operate in the country, and that all their moveable and immoveable assets should be seized.

A Statutory Notification (SRO) issued by the interior ministry on Feb 10 directs that “requisite action with regard to freezing and taking over of assets (moveable, immoveable and human resource) associated with JuD and FIF shall be taken in pursuance of ordinance No-II of 2018”.

JuD says government is taking the action to please India and America

Mr Sanaullah told Dawn that after receiving the relevant directions, they started taking over all JuD and FIF facilities, which include schools, dispensaries, offices and seminaries.

The minister says that officials from various government departments had been appointed as administrators of JuD’s offices, and to oversee the working of welfare-oriented facilities like dispensaries and schools. He did not elaborate on whether the mosques operating under the control of JuD would also be taken over.

However, a senior government official said that Auqaf Department officials would monitor the mosques, and their khateebs and imams would not be changed, at least for the time being.

Replying to a question, he said that cash donation boxes from the mosques and other places were being confiscated while FIF’s ambulances were being handed over to the Rescue-1122 services.

A report from Islamabad says that three dispensaries of FIF had been taken over and the ambulances parked there had been handed over to the Red Crescent.

Meanwhile, JuD spokesperson Yahya Mujahid expressed serious concerns over the government’s move. He announced that they would take the matter to court.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, he alleged, “the government is taking possession of our educational institutes, ambulances, dispensaries and other assets to please India and America.”

The move, he said, had severely hurt their relief and welfare activities in Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab and Kashmir.

He regretted that their party chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and other leaders had been detained without any reason last year and now their relief projects were being shut down across the country to the disadvantage of thousands of poor, orphans, widows and the needy.

US seeks information

Meanwhile, the United States sought more information from Pakistan about the steps it had taken to blacklist certain groups.

“The United States welcomes the steps taken to blacklist Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FiF) and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) in line with UN Security Council sanctions,” a State Department spokesperson told Dawn when asked if Washington would consider withdrawing its move to place Pakistan on the intergovernmental FATF watch-list.

FATF is scheduled to meet in Paris from Feb 18 to 23 and this plenary session may consider the US move, which is backed by Britain, France and Germany, to put Pakistan on its watch list.

“We look forward to additional information on how these steps are being implemented and what concrete steps are being taken to counter the groups, which is crucial,” the spokesperson added.

Anwar Iqbal contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018

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