In a move that has not left Delhi impressed, the Pakistan government on Thursday decided to “accelerate action against proscribed organisations” and reinstated a ban on 26/11 mastermind and UN-proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its surrogate, the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).
In February last year, former president Mamnoon Hussain promulgated an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act with regard to proscription of terrorist individuals and organisations to include entities listed by the UN Security Council. The move had resulted in the declaration of JuD and FIF as proscribed groups, the Dawn reported.
However, the two Saeed-linked organisations had slipped off the national list of proscribed organisations after the presidential ordinance lapsed, the Dawn reported. This time, the two organisations have been notified as proscribed organisations by the PTI-led government through the Ministry of Interior.
The decision to ban them again was taken at a National Security Committee meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and key federal ministers, services chiefs as well as heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI).
Soon after the meeting, which lasted over three hours, the interior ministry issued a statement saying that the NSC reviewed the National Action Plan in detail. “It was decided during the meeting to accelerate action against the proscribed organisations,” it said.
“It was further decided that Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation be notified as proscribed organisations by the ministry of Interior,” it said, according to Express Tribune which posted the order on its website.
Before the government’s ban, the two organisations had been under watch by the Ministry of Interior under Section 11-D-(1), read with Schedule-II of the Anti-Terrorism Act of Pakistan.
The ban comes on a day PM Imran Khan “authorised” Pakistan’s army to “respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure” by India. Two days ago, Khan had warned in a public statement that Pakistan would “retaliate” if India launched attacks to avenge the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
India has so far not responded to the retaliatory threat by Khan, though Delhi has countered Khan’s claims point by point.
While there was no official response to the ban on JuD and FIF, sources in Delhi were not impressed with the moves since this has been part of Islamabad’s playbook time and again to ward off international pressure after terrorist incidents.
A source told The Indian Express that these gestures are meant for the international community, at a time when the Financial Action Task Force is meeting in Paris this week, and France will put pressure on at least maintaining Pakistan on the “grey list”.
Sources said the Pakistan government has to take “immediate and verifiable action” against Jaish-e-Mohammed and its leader Masood Azhar. “That has been our demand. We are not going to be fooled by some cosmetic action here and there,” a source told The Indian Express.
Khan said that the “state of Pakistan” is not involved in any way, means or form in the Pulwama terrorist attack. “The incident was conceived, planned and executed indigenously,” he told the National Security Committee, while referring to the Pulwama attack.
Khan told the National Security Committee that Pakistan has sincerely offered investigation of the incident as well as the offer of dialogue on the issue of terrorism among other disputed issues. “We expect India to positively respond to the offers,” the statement said.
On the issue of investigation, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had rejected the offer, calling it a “lame excuse”. “In the horrific attack in Mumbai on 26/11, proof was provided to Pakistan. Despite this, the case has not progressed for the last more than 10 years. Likewise, on the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, there has been no progress. Promises of ‘guaranteed action’ ring hollow given the track record of Pakistan,” it had said.
And on the offer of dialogue on terrorism, the MEA had again contended that India has repeatedly stated that it is ready to engage in a comprehensive bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence.
“Based on the investigation or any tangible evidence provided, State of Pakistan shall take action against anyone found using our soil,” the Pakistan’s government’s statement said on Thursday.
India had on Tuesday said that disclaiming any link between the terrorist attack and Pakistan is an “oft-repeated excuse” by Pakistan. “The Pakistani Prime Minister has ignored claims made by the Jaish-e-Mohammad, as well as by the terrorist, who perpetrated this heinous crime. It is a well-known fact that Jaish-e-Mohammad and its leader Masood Azhar are based in Pakistan. These should be sufficient proof for Pakistan to take action,” the statement said.
The Pakistan government’s statement said that India also needs “deep introspection” to realise why people of Kashmir have lost fear of death. The violence by Indian forces in Kashmir is “highly counterproductive”, it said. The global community needs to play its part in resolving the long pending Kashmir issue in accordance with UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris, it added.
Delhi has always maintained that it is a bilateral issue between the two countries, and there is no place for third-party involvement.
According to the statement, Khan said this is a “new Pakistan” and they are determined to demonstrate to their people that the State is capable of protecting them and believes that monopoly of violence stays with State.
“This will not come with commitment alone. We recognize that terrorism and extremism are the top issues in the region and the whole region including Pakistan have suffered,” it said.
“Having addressed direct threat to State of Pakistan, we need to move to ensure that militancy and extremism are routed from the society and the State never becomes hostage to extremists. In this regard, Prime Minister directed both the interior ministry and the security institutions to immediately accelerate actions on ground,” it said.
Much of what Khan told the National Security Committee in Islamabad is an echo of his six-minute video message, where his tone and language was seen in New Delhi as quite unusual for a democratically elected leader in Pakistan in the recent past.
This despite the fact that the Jaish claimed responsibility after a vehicle, driven by local resident Adil Dar, rammed into a CRPF bus killing 40 security personnel.