Right Vision News
August 23, 2012 Thursday

Pakistan: Time for govt to act against jihadi outfits collecting donations


PESHAWAR


PESHAWAR, Aug. 23 -- The scene wasn't much different from last year -
a horde of beggars lining up along the entry and exit gates of
Bagh-i-Naran, women clad in burqas and men spreading out their chadors
and shawls asking for alms. Some of these faces are recognisable. This
is commonplace and not restricted to Eid days only.

What also was not unusual was groups of jihadi organisations, seeking
donations to help wage 'jihad' against the United States in
Afghanistan. Jamaat-ud Da'wa and Al-Badr Mujahideen activists holding
printed material handouts and banners were using megaphones to attract
attention and donors.

Also present were some activists of what it called the Deobandi
Jaish-i-Muhammad making pronouncements in their easily distinguishable
Afridi dialect. It was not clear if this was some new outfit or it was
the one banned by the federal government in 2002.

Amid this din and clamour for donations for the jihad, an apparently
vigilant policeman stood guard looking instead at the double road that
passes along the sprawling Bagh-i-Naran., except he did not see or
choose not to see what was going on at his back, drawing one to
conclude that either this activity had the official sanction or the
policeman on duty was not too bothered about who was collecting what
and for what causes.

Those frequenting prayer congregations on Eid festivals or frequent
some of the city's big mosques are not surprised either. "What is new
in this?" retorted a bewildered citizen, when asked about the open
activity of these outfits. "This is usual", he added, probably to
allay the

irony his first inquisitive answer might have caused.

It is another thing that most men just walked past the
donation-seeking young men, without dropping a coin or a banknote into
the spread-out sheets.

This could be true. Some of these outfits - not the banned ones,
routinely visit mosques and use the pulpits to invite people to join
the holy war in Afghanistan. "Recruitment" in mosques in Peshawar's
peripheral areas and other districts continue.

Rarely are the bodies of those volunteers, who lose their lives "in
the way of Allah" are brought back. Instead, a group of militants
visits and informs the family of the 'good news' that their beloved
son or brother has embraced sha'hadat and that they should be proud
and not sad.

A young boy who had just recently grown stubble and used to wash car,
had also volunteered and the next thing his family knew was that he
had been killed along with seven others while taking part in the
"jihad" in Afghanistan. So, the recruitment goes on, unchecked.

There were times when militant outfits would operate freely and
openly, not only raising funds but also recruiting young people for
the "Jihad" in the Indian-held Kashmir but also for Afghanistan. Wall
chalking and graffiti would openly invite volunteers to join their

training camps. These outfits had their offices and bases and no one
asked question, in fact, no one was supposed to ask questions.

There were times that some outfits had begun to recruit volunteers to
take part in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over their dispute
at Nagorno Karabakh in the early 1990s, not to mention the war in
Bosnia. A Chechen resistance leader had made a whirlwind countrywide
tour to raise funds for the war in Chechnya and spoke at mosques
before the foreign office woke up and ordered him to leave.

Under international microscope, Gen Musharraf changed tacks, initially
urging militant organisations to go underground and lie low for a
while, turning training camps into so-called rehabilitation centres
with an aim to bring militants into mainstream. Most disgruntled
militants, feeling having been abandoned and betrayed, left to form
their own splinter groups, others joined more violent and
out-of-control outfits - and this explains Pakistan's present
situation.

Whether tacit permission, or negligence and oversight, allowing such
activities in full public view creates a perception that perhaps
things are back to square one. The difference between extremism and
terrorism that Gen Kayani so spoke about at Kakul last week would
remain mere lip service unless the government follows through on its
word and acts and not just speaks about curbing such activities.