'Opposition to be taken into confidence regarding crackdown on proscribed organisations'

Updated March 07, 2019

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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said the government has decided that they will decide the strategy for the crackdown on proscribed organisations, after discussing with other parliamentary leaders. — DawnNewsTV
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said the government has decided that they will decide the strategy for the crackdown on proscribed organisations, after discussing with other parliamentary leaders. — DawnNewsTV

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday said the government has decided that it will decide on its larger strategy on how to act against proscribed organisations after discussing the matter with other parliamentary leaders.

While addressing a press conference, the information minister said that the leaders of major parties will be taken into confidence with regards to major decisions on banned organisations.

Chaudhry said that a consensus had been built in the country in recent days in response to Indian aggression and the government wanted this consensus to be sustained rather than see it break "over small things".

He said that these were matters of national interest and the government wanted to move forward with the opposition the way it had with various other institutions.

On Tuesday, officials of the Ministry of Interior had announced that 44 under-observation members of proscribed organisations, including Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar (no relation to the Minister of State for Revenue) — the brother and son of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) leader Masood Azhar, respectively — had been taken into "preventive detention" for investigation.

Law enforcement agencies on Wednesday intensified the ongoing crackdown on JeM, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and other banned outfits, with the arrest of more than 100 activists and takeover of nearly 200 seminaries besides hundreds of other facilities and assets associated with them across the country.

Chaudhry today said matters regarding proscribed organisations had been decided in 2014 when all political parties had signed on to the National Action Plan (NAP).

He noted that one of the fundamental bases for the plan was to take steps to ensure that Pakistan's soil was not used against any other country.

Chaudhry clarified that the militant organisations being cracked down on were already banned, but some additional steps had to be taken, such as those needed to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) demands, or else the country would face international sanctions.

He worried that as a result of being blacklisted by the FATF, the country may face "rising gas and electricity bills".

"Keeping that in mind, the government has to keep the economy as well as the country's well-being as supreme," he said.

Chaudhry noted that it was "perhaps for the first time in 40 years" that the international media "is welcoming Pakistan's stance", including those newspapers which Pakistan had always had a complaint with.

He said, "Today, they [international media] were saying that Pakistan's stance is right, while India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have made a mockery of themselves with the way they are risking the lives of millions for the sake of their elections."

The information minister said this was a good opportunity for the country to capitalise on internal unity and move forward with the narrative that has resonated with international observers.

In response to a question, Chaudhry said that Pakistan's ulema (religious scholars) and people should realise that Pakistan is not internationally in a position to take "any sort of burden" and noted that the internal situation "demanded the strengthening of the economy".

He added that there was a consensus on this position among all political parties as well as religious parties, who he thanked for their cooperation.

The minister was also asked if action against proscribed organisations was being taken in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and the dossier that India had sent; he, however, responded simply by saying Pakistan "had been taking action since 2014".

According to Chaudhry, it was not that steps were not being taken, but that the media's focus had shifted away.

Concluding his briefing, the information minister added that India's narrative was being proven wrong at every step; whether it was about attacks or about some seminary being targetted. He noted that the world was saying that what India was saying was wrong.

Read more: Foreign journalists find holes in Indian narrative on F-16 usage, Balakot strike