Despite ban, Lashkar-e-Taiba leader thumbs nose in Pakistan, hails terrorist

Funeral assembly on July 6 provides fresh evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, banned under the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions and Pakistani law, continues to operate in plain sight of the country’s law enforcement despite a hyped crackdown on its top leadership.

Written by Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Updated: July 11, 2017 8:51 am
Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, abdul rehman makki, pakistan terror, hafiz muhammad, kashmir unrest, indian army, army in kashmir, indian express news, india news Funeral prayers in absentia for Lashkar-e-Taiba man in Bahawalpur

ABDUL REHMAN Makki, the second-in-command of the Jama’at-ud-Dawa and brother-in-law of its jailed chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, offered funeral prayers last week for a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, who was killed fighting the Indian Army in Kashmir, before a crowd of hundreds in the Pakistani city of Bahawalpur, according to posters, banners and eyewitness testimony compiled by The Indian Express.

The funeral assembly on July 6 provides fresh evidence that the Lashkar-e-Taiba, banned under the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions and Pakistani law, continues to operate in plain sight of the country’s law enforcement despite a hyped crackdown on its top leadership.

Posters for the Ghaibana Namaaz-e-Janazah — funeral prayers held when the body of the deceased is unavailable — state that the event was held in memory of Abu Muhammad Yaqoob, the son of Kot Noora resident Muhammad Nawaz, “martyred fighting the Indian Army while performing Ghazwa-e-Hind”.

Ghazwa-e-Hind refers to a set of five theologically contentious prophecies attributed to Prophet Muhammad, predicting a victorious war to capture India that will precede the apocalypse.

The posters, as well as large banners placed over major intersections in the city, announced that Bahawalpur-born Makki would deliver his address at Basti Kot Noora after the evening Asr prayers.

Kot Noora, known locally as Noorey ki Goth, is one of Bahawalpur’s newer suburbs, near the city’s radio station. It is home to lower-middle income, ethnic Saraiki traders, key targets for the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s recruitment campaigns, which are reaching out to politically disenfranchised communities.

In his funeral oration, an eyewitness present at the function said, Makki vowed to defy ongoing efforts to rein in the Jama’at-ud-Dawa, which he described as an international conspiracy, and committed to continue supporting the “jihad” in Kashmir. He also lashed out at the “lecherous and debased” US President Donald Trump for killing Muslims, and plotting to destroy the Kashmir struggle.

“Earlier, Kashmiris were divided on what they wanted, but today every martyr’s flag is draped with the flag of Pakistan. We want the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir to be implemented, and for it to be freed from Hindu rule,” the eyewitness quoted Makki as saying.

Last month, Pakistan’s junior minister for interior, narcotics control and education attended a ceremony where the Jama’at-ud-Dawa’s charitable wing, Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), donated ambulances to the Bahawal Victoria Hospital after an oil-tanker accident killed at least 190 people in Bahawalpur.

The minister did so even though the FIF is listed by the UNSC as a proxy organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, in what Indian diplomats said is a demonstration of the Jama’at-ud-Dawa’s abiding clout with elements of Pakistan’s army and Punjab province’s Islamist-leaning middle-class.

Last October, The Indian Express had reported the Jama’at-ud-Dawa had held a similar function for Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Muhammad Anas, hailing his role in the attack on the Indian Army’s 20 Brigade headquarters in Uri. The killing of 20 soldiers in the attack led India to launch cross-Line of Control strikes on Lashkar-e-Taiba facilities, sparking artillery and machine-gun exchanges, which are still unfolding.

The Lashkar had, in posters put up in Gujranwala, described Anas as having sent “177 Hindu soldiers to hell at the Uri Brigade camp in occupied Kashmir, and thus drank from the glass of martyrdom”.

Lashkar chief Saeed, as well as his aides Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain, were in January held under preventive detention clauses in Pakistan’s anti-terrorism laws, just weeks before a meeting of the multinational Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Some observers saw this as an effort to avert measures that would have targeted the country’s access to the global banking system.

The Lahore High Court is scheduled to rule next month on the validity of Saeed’s detention, which his lawyer A K Dogar has argued is illegal.

For its part, the FATF is scheduled to hear a presentation from Pakistan on its compliance with UNSC sanctions against the Lashkar-e-Taiba, passed after the 26/11 attacks, later this year.

Listed as a global terrorist by the US, which has announced an $2-million reward for information leading to his arrest, Makki took charge of the organisation following Saeed’s arrest. Named by alleged jihadist Abdul Karim Tunda as an associate, Makki is believed by Indian authorities to have begun building pan-India networks for the Lashkar as early as 1994.

In a conference on Kashmir held in Pakistan’s Faisalabad in February, Makki had lashed out at Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accusing him of acting against the Jama’at-ud-Dawa at the behest of “that man who had tea at Raiwind” — a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in 2015.

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