Posts Tagged ‘Jaish-e-Muhammad’


By Zia Ur Rehman

January 15, 2016


In the ongoing countrywide crackdown against the Jaish-e-Muhammad, a banned Jihadi group, law enforcement agencies have arrested a number of its members and sympathisers in different parts of Karachi, The News learnt on Thursday.

Law enforcement agencies reportedly arrested JeM chief Maulana Masood Azahar on Wednesday in the Bahawalpur district of Punjab in connection with an attack on the Indian airbase in Pathankot, besides detaining dozens of members of the group, according to media reports.


Interviews with members of various religious and Jihadi groups and seminaries’ officials in Karachi suggest that law enforcement agencies have picked up a number of people associated, currently or previously, with the JeM and its charity front, the Al-Rehmat Trust, from different parts of the city.

The crackdown on the JeM also forced a number of its members to go underground, because of fear of arrests, said an administrator in a seminary in Karachi. “A large number of the JeM members have joined other religio-political parties and Jihadi groups, such as the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl and the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat because of the JeM’s long hibernation.”

The JeM, on its official Facebook page, Maktab-ul-Ameer, said in its brief message that the law enforcement agencies’ arresting its member cannot affect the activities and cause of the organisation, the BBC Urdu reported.

However, officials of the police and other law enforcement agencies refused to confirm the arrests. “In their regular policing, law enforcement agencies pick up suspects affiliated with banned militant outfits. We don’t know which specific law enforcement agency is behind arresting the JeM members in the city,” said a senior police official, requesting anonymity.

In Karachi, the JeM had an active and strong organisational set-up. After the government’s imposition of a ban on the JeM in 2002, the group started working under new names – the Tehreek-ul-Furqan and then the Khuddam ul-Islam. However, in 2003, the group split after Azhar expelled its 12 leaders, including the group’s Karachi head, Abdullah Shah Mazhar, who, along with commander Abdul Jabbar, later took the name of the Tehreek-ul-Furqan.

The split led to violent clashes between the groups over the control of assets and funds. “The most violent clash between the two groups was over control of Masjid Bataha in the Sakhi Hasan neighborhood, in which a number of their members were injured,” said a seminary teacher, who is aware of the differences. Abdullah Mazhar, who is now part of the JUI-F, had also escaped an assassination attempt in the Bahadurabad area.

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By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – After imposing restrictions on charities linked with banned militant organisations, Pakistani authorities have generally succeeded in blocking them from collecting Ramadan donations, security analysts say.

During Ramadan, militant organisations failed to establish a single camp collecting donations and Zakat (Islamic tithing) in Karachi, Central Asia Online has learnt.

The Sindh government warned 25 banned organisations to shut their offices and directed law enforcement agencies to move against them.

That decision came from an August 24 Karachi meeting chaired by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik. It follows an August 3 order by the Punjab government to 22 banned organisations, most tied to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda, to stop seeking donations during Ramadan.

Banned terrorist outfits, under different names, raise money through Zakat and the collection of animal hides, Malik told a meeting with Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) August 27.

“There is a dire need to enact laws to stop the collection of Zakat, Fitrana and animal skins in Karachi,” he said. “I will take this matter to parliament and ask all political parties to stop these activities.”

Exploiting generosity

Ramadan has been a lucrative month for militants in past years. They take advantage of the generosity of Pakistani Muslims. International studies show Pakistan to be one of the most charitable Islamic nations, with its citizens annually contributing Rs. 80 billion (US $920m) as Zakat and Fitrana (staple-food donations at the end of Ramadan) during the holy month, said Imtiaz Alam, a Lahore-based aid consultant.

“The role of such militant welfare organisations is a serious issue because many of them are based on spreading militancy via supporting terrorism financially and creating havoc in the name of Islam,” Alam said.

Taliban militants always exploit natural disasters and use the money to fund terrorism and weapon purchases rather than helping disaster survivors, charged Islam Shah, an NGO activist from Swat.

Last year during Ramadan, militant-linked charities raked in millions of rupees under the guise of helping flood victims, Alam said.

“But this Ramadan, the recent government ban on militant-linked charities will help the legitimate charitable organisations to collect Zakat donations (and to) spend the funds on remarkable work,” he added.

The ban and other moves by authorities have encouraged genuine charities to collect donations that will benefit the long-suffering population of insurgency- and disaster-stricken areas, Shah told Central Asia Online.

“In the past, charily boxes of these banned militant welfare organisations were placed everywhere at shops in big cities of the country,” said Khurshid Anwar, a Karachi-based civil society activist, “but today the situation has quietly changed. Boxes having logos and pleas of various jihadi outfits have been replaced by boxes belonging to actual charity organisations, such as SUIT (Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology), the Edhi Foundation, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, etc.”

However, a few shops in large cities still have boxes from banned charities, proving the menace persists, Anwar said.

Some militant groups haven’t stopped raising money

Some banned jihadi organisations, especially Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), continue to seek funds during Ramadan, primarily in Punjab Province, according to media reports.

Halting militants’ pursuit of donations altogether is difficult because the groups re-name their front organisations, security analysts say.

JeM, Punjab’s second largest militant group, has resumed its activities after remaining underground since the government banned it in 2001 and is trying to raise money during Ramadan from Pakistan and the Gulf states, according to a June 19 Express Tribune report.

JeM, to circumvent the ban on fund-raising, has been working under dozens of different names in South Punjab, Afzal Baloch, a journalist in Dera Ghazi Khan, told Central Asia Online.

Five militant organisations, the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, JeM, the Harkaturl Jihadul Islami and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), are comfortably established in South Punjab and can use the fund-raising campaign to enlist fresh recruits in some areas, Baloch said.

Similarly, a charity front for the banned LeT and its political arm (Jamaat-ud-Dawa) has been raising money, but this time, its campaign has been comparatively feeble, he said.

Most banned organisations that are still pursuing money do so at mosques, especially after Friday prayers, and through their jihadi publications, Central Asia Online has learnt.

Funding from the Gulf states plays a vital role in supporting militancy, some political analysts say. They suggest scrutinising money coming from the Gulf states to Pakistan.


By Zia Ur Rehman

KARACHI – Militant groups are gaining ground in the Sindh interior as more madrassas open, Sindh political and social activists say.

“The rise of militant-run madrassas is posing a threat to Sindh’s non violent Sufi landscape,” Salam Dharejo, a political analyst told Central Asia Online. “Due to the deep-rooted influence of Sufism, the militancy has never flourished in Sindh; however, the proliferation of militant elements is posing a threat to what has been a liberal Sindhi society for many years.”

Sindh activists, holding a sign that says "Peace Rally: Sindh people are followers of Sufism and love peace," rally for peace in Shahdad Kot February 10. Extremism is gaining ground in the interior of Sindh as the number of militant-run madrassas increase, political and social activists fear (Zia Ur Rehman)

The October 1 torching of 27 oil tankers near Shikarpur is evidence that militants are moving into Sindh, Dharejo said. The attack was the first of its kind in the region.

The people of Sindh typically reject aggression, militancy and extremism, said Dilshad Bhutto, a Sindhi intellectual who heads the Pakistan Secular Forum.

“Islam spread in the Sindh region through the preaching of great Sufis, not by Arab fighters,” Bhutto told Central Asia Online.“Islam spread in the Sindh region through the preaching of great Sufis, not by Arab fighters,” Bhutto told Central Asia Online. Sufis spread a message of love, peace and interfaith harmony, he said.

Jihadi groups now active in Sindh

Banned jihadi organisations – especially Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi , which are linked with the defunct Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda – have become active across Sindh and are backing many madrassas, an intelligence officer who oversees anti-extremism in the Interior Sindh told Central Asia Online.

Madrassas “are not imparting religious education but rather are transforming the ideologies of students and preaching hatred and violence,” Siddiqa said.

The banned sectarian groups are organizing public gatherings in which many of the participants are young madrassa students, the intelligence officer said. The banned groups also circulate militant literature among the students in an effort to restrict the independent thought processes of students.

In Khairpur District, hometown of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, 93 of 117 seminaries are not registered with the government, said Imtiaz Hussain, a Sukker-based senior journalist.

Locals have concerns over the militant-run seminaries, he said, because they stir up fear of Talibanisation, Hussain added.

Despite the growing numbers of madrassas preaching militancy, the intelligence official said the government has no official data about the madrassas linked to banned groups.

However after a recent provincial government directive, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are now collecting such information in order to determine which madrassas should be shut down.

Militancy shows itself in several ways

Militant-run madrassas and influences have begun to appear in a number of ways, civil society activists say.

In February, students from local madrassas interrupted a musical show in the Thatta District and warned the organisers they would not allow what they consider to be anti-religious activities to take place.

In December, Dr. Noshad Valiyani, a physician, was severely beaten and dragged to a local police station by students from an SSP-linked madrassa in Hyderabad. He was falsely accused of committing blasphemy, said Dr. Habib-Ur-Rehman Soomro, a leader of Pakistan Medical Association.

“Islam spread in the Sindh region through the preaching of great Sufis, not by Arab fighters,” Bhutto told Central Asia Online.

Attacks on Hindus and forced conversions to Islam were once rare in Sindh, but in recent years, hundreds of Hindu girls have been forcibly converted, Dharejo said. In October 2009, Hindus in the Umer Kot area, where they comprise half the total population of the area, were attacked by Muslims. Many of the attackers were madrassa students, he said.

Madrassas influence students

Militant-backed madrassas lie at the root of the problem, Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a security analyst and author, said during a February 8 presentation on “Militarisation and Terrorism” at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Karachi office.

Madrassas “are not imparting religious education but rather are transforming the ideologies of students and preaching hatred and violence,” Siddiqa said. “Today’s madrassas are quietly changing from what they were in the past,” Siddiqa said. “These institutions are not imparting religious education but rather are transforming the ideologies of students and preaching hatred and violence.”

“The country is witnessing today the phenomenon of ‘ideological jihadism,’ and the militants … want to enforce religion by the edge of a sword and overthrow the government by replacing it with a hardcore Wahhabi interpretation of Islam,” she said, adding that splinter groups are killing the innocent for no reason.

Any long-term solution to extremism must include regulation of the madrassas, especially those that preach religious and cultural intolerance, said Jan Mazari, a college instructor in the Jacobabad District.

A check on highly politicised madrassas will limit their capacity to socialise youth into religious orthodoxy and thus will make them less vulnerable to the appeals of militant groups, Mazari said.

In order to curb militancy in the province, Sindh’s civil society and secular political groups are going to launch a campaign against extremism, said Murad Pandarani, a social activist associated with the Pirbhat Women’s Development Society, a Shahdad Kot-based non-governmental organisation.

Calling for a consensus-based strategy aimed at preventing militancy, he said that the government and civil society both should start a joint struggle against the menace of extremism in Sindh.

Sindh is the land of great Sufi saints like Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and will not allow militancy to dominate the region, Taj Haider, Sindh government spokesman, said.

The government has devised a policy to monitor madrassas in Sindh and will take strict action against madrassas linked with banned militant organisations, he said.