ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry has suggested abolishment and banning of the “militant wing” of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).
In a summary forwarded to the federal cabinet, the ministry said: “Various source reports shared by our intelligence agencies and provincial governments with the Ministry of Interior has revealed that Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazlur Rehman Group (JUI-F) has established a militant wing, a private militia / Razakar force named ‘Ansar-ul-Islam’ to provide security to marchers for the Azadi March scheduled for 27h October 2019 and proposed sit-in in Islamabad from 31 October 2019.”
According to the summary, a copy of which is available with Dawn, Ansar-ul-Islam is capable of functioning as a military organisation, which is a violation of Article 256 of the Constitution.
The ministry said Ansar-ul-Islam was organised, trained and equipped and it was capable of being used to display physical force in promoting Azadi March and objectives of the JUI-F.
The summary said that the uniformed force, carrying batons and sticks with wrapped barbed wire under a politico-religious party, apparently aims at challenging the writ of the government.
It said the rehearsals and march pasts carried out by the said force during a workers convention, recently held in Peshawar, pledging allegiance to the top JUI-F leadership, has stirred fear among the general public and is being seen as a private armed militia / combating force to confront the law enforcement agencies.
“It is feared that the said private militant force, reportedly around 80,000 all over Pakistan, may sabotage public peace and create disorder and anarchy across the country during the planned Azadi March and other political activities by JUI-F.”
The interior ministry has also expressed concerns that the private militia could be equipped with other objects, including arms and ammunition.
Ansar-ul-Islam has posed a real, present and severe threat to the peace and tranquillity of Islamabad and the four provinces, it added.
The summary has also given the reference of the National Action Plan that prohibits militant outfits and armed gangs from operating in the country.
The interior ministry has referred to Article 146(1) of the Constitution which allows the federal government to delegate any of its powers to the provinces, conditionally or unconditionally, with the consent of the provincial governments.
It has asked the federal cabinet to authorise it to seek consent from the provinces so that the process of abolishing / banning Ansar-ul-Islam could be initiated.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan confirmed that the federal cabinet would take up the matter in its next meeting.
“However, it is too early to say if the JUI-F too could face some action through the Election Commission,” she said, adding that the government would react strongly if the JUI-F tried to intimidate the general public with a show of power.
In reply to the question about the possibility of arresting Maulana Fazl or keeping him under house arrest, she said that maintaining law and order was the responsibility of the provinces and the federal government would extend help to them.
She reiterated that nobody could force their way into the federal capital and challenging the state’s writ would not be tolerated.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019