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Under Foreign Pressure: Punjab government seizes assets of JuD and its welfare wing

Foreign

News Analysis |

Punjab government has swiftly acted on a notification issued by the federal government to seize all the moveable and immovable assets of the organizations named in the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) sanctions list. The most prominent of these organizations is Hafiz Saeed’s Jamat ud Dawa (JuD) and its welfare wing the Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).

The decision came after the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain signed an ordinance last week which was made public on 12th February, it amended a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 to enable the authorities to move against individuals and organizations proscribed by the UNSC. Article 89 of the Constitution of Pakistan allows the president to issue an ordinance for 120 days without the approval of the Parliament.

The foreign minister of Uzbekistan also met the Joint Chief of Staff (JSC) on Monday and the purpose of all the meetings is believed to be the same: to find alternate sources of income to counter the US aid suspension.

Following the ordinance, the federal cabinet on Tuesday approved new rules to tighten the grip around banned organizations and cut off their financial assistance. The cabinet approved the Anti-Terrorism Rules 2018 which would allow the government to seize and freeze all moveable and immoveable assets of terrorist individuals and organizations.

Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told Reuters on Tuesday that the interior ministry had issued a Statuary Notification (SRO) on 10th February that “requisite action with regard to freezing and taking over of assets (moveable, immoveable and human resource) associated with JuD and FIF shall be taken in pursuance of ordinance No-II of 2018”.

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The Punjab government has so far taken control of the Hudabia Madressah and four dispensaries on Chakra Road Naseerabad, Rawalpindi. The JuD’s famous Muridke Markaz along with its various schools, seminaries and health facilities were also taken over on Wednesday. Media sources have reported that the ambulances of FIF will be handed over to rescue 1122 services and various government departments will oversee the working of JuD organisations.

The meeting of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) with the Iranian and Turkish ambassadors on Monday it is believed was also an attempt to engage allies to increase Pakistan’s exports and create new economic ventures to boost the economy.

JuD spokesperson Yahya Mujahid has expressed serious concern over government’s stern action. A statement was issued by the JuD spokesperson on Wednesday in which he alleged, “The government is taking possession of our educational institutes, ambulances, dispensaries and other assets to please India and America.” Mujahid lamented that the takeover will serious hurt their welfare activities in Kashmir, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh.

The government of Pakistan had earlier banned JuD, FIF and other organisation on the UNSC sanctions list. The notification was issued by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) on 1st January 2018. Hafiz Saeed had blamed the government for taking dictation from US and India on banning his organisations. He challenged them to prove any illegal activities of the organisations in the court.

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The crackdown is considered to be a result of the upcoming Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris next week. The US and Britain had put forward a motion to place Pakistan on the FATF terror-financing watch list several weeks ago, according to Miftah Ismail, the de facto Finance Minister of Pakistan. Ismail told Reuters that the US and Britain are also persuading France and Germany to co-sponsor it.

The cabinet approved the Anti-Terrorism Rules 2018 which would allow the government to seize and freeze all moveable and immoveable assets of terrorist individuals and organizations.

Pakistani authorities fear that if Pakistan is placed on the terror-financing watch list, it would be very hard for them to get foreign funding and loans. The US had last month banned $2 billion in military aid to Pakistan which has put some strain on the economy. The aid will be suspended until Pakistan ensures the US authorities of its cooperation in the war against terror. Political experts believe that the move to seize the assets of proscribed organizations might be temporary in the wake of the FATF meeting.

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It is unsure whether this ordinance will be ratified by parliament and made into a long term decision. If the parliament doesn’t ratify the amendment, it will cease to exist after 120 days.

The meeting of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) with the Iranian and Turkish ambassadors on Monday it is believed was also an attempt to engage allies to increase Pakistan’s exports and create new economic ventures to boost the economy. The foreign minister of Uzbekistan also met the Joint Chief of Staff (JSC) on Monday and the purpose of all the meetings is believed to be the same: to find alternate sources of income to counter the US aid suspension.


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