By Zia Ur Rehman

Oct 24, 2012

KARACHI – The Pakistani Interior Ministry has banned 40 outlawed organisations from collecting animal hides and donations ahead of Eid ul Adha (October 27).

“We will offer no concession to any banned organisation as the money from sacrificial animal hides and donations is used for terror activities,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Central Asia Online October 22.

The list of banned organisations include major groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and a host of smaller outfits.

Pakistanis take animals to a Peshawar market October 23 ahead of Eid ul Adha. The government is banning 40 militant groups from being able to collect sacrificial animal hides. A similar ban last year was called effective in limiting the number of unscrupulous collections. [Syed Ansar Abbas]
Anyone trying to violate the ban will be prosecuted, Malik said.

Conferees at an October 23 meeting to discuss Eid security and arrangements decided that any organisation collecting hides will need a certificate from a district co-ordination officer or police officer.

“The order of the federal government … should be fully implemented,” an Interior Ministry statement issued after the meeting said.

Exploiting Muslim generosity

Eid ul Adha is Islam’s second biggest religious festival, and Muslims sacrifice animals to please God and donate the hides to charity, said Abdul Waheed, a social activist who heads the Bright Educational Society, an educational charity in Karachi. Believers also make monetary donations during Eid.

Religious and social charities, religious parties, seminaries and outlawed militant groups compete vigorously for the money and the hides, Waheed told Central Asia Online. The difference is that the banned militant groups use the money to fund terrorist activities, rather than helping the poor, analysts say.

Intelligence agencies investigating the collection of animal hides on Eid ul Adha have linked money laundering to banned militant groups, according to the “Financial Sources of Pakistani Militants and Religious Organisations” report prepared by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank.

Militant groups use animal hides as a cover to legitimise funds received from abroad, by claiming they generated the money through selling the hides, the report revealed.

A banner from an outlawed charity organisation solicits animal hide donations in the Landhi area of Karachi October 20. Pakistan has banned 40 outlawed organisations from collecting animal hides during Eid ul Adha. [Zia Ur Rehman]
“They are facing a severe financial crisis and shortage of funds in wake of the measures taken by Pakistani authorities to cut off their main source of income abroad,” Karachi-based security analyst Raees Ahmed said in explaining the effort by militant organisations to collect the hides.

Donations during religious festivals can reap millions of rupees for banned terrorist outfits masquerading under different names, he said.

The public needs to be aware of where its money is going and what group it is giving to, Waheed said.

Government’s efforts 

Besides the ban on the 40 banned organisations, the Sindh provincial government has issued a code of conduct for the upcoming holiday.

“No one will be allowed to carry arms during the three days of Eid ul Adha,” Sindh Home Department official Mukarram Ali said, and authorities will not allow calls for hides from loudspeakers from mosques, seminaries and offices.

Other provincial and local governments have similar guidance in place.

Pakistan authorities imposed similar restrictions last year, and they were deemed effective.

The Punjab government, for example, enacted a ban against militants collecting hides last year and Punjab police registered 72 cases against alleged violators, including members of the TTP, LeJ, Al-Rehmat Trust, Harkat Jihad-e-Islam and Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Dawn reported October 22, citing a senior police official.

This year’s ban is already making an impact, Ahmed said, noting that the number of banners and posters appealing for hides in Karachi this year is significantly lower than it has been in past years.

Still, believers are told to be cautious in deciding where they donate the hides.

“Pakistani people are generally not aware about such extremist charities and generously donate in the name of Islam and humanity,” Waheed said. “People should donate only to genuine charities and aid organisations whose credentials in humanitarian work are known.”