ISLAMABAD: Ever since Pakistan became a frontline state in the US-led war against terrorism in 2001, it has lost a staggering 49,000 of its people.
To add to these appalling figures, it was revealed recently that the number of organisations banned by the government have almost doubled during the last two years. The latest figure soared to 59 as the Interior Ministry banned 28 terrorist groups during the last 20 months.
Out of the total number of proscribed militant outfits, 59 are completely banned by the Government of Pakistan, three organisations in the country are named in the al Qaeda Sanctions List – maintained by the United Nations Security Council Committee that oversees sanctions imposed on individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda – while the Sunni Tehreek is ‘under strict watch’. That brings the total number of organisations of the list to be at 63.
Meanwhile, more than two dozen outfits, including the Jamaat ud Dawa, are pleading their cases in court, appealing against the imposed ban.
There are two aspects to this increasing number of banned groups: one, the distending number of militant, terrorist groups; and two, the measures being taken by the government towards de-legitimising these outfits in a bid to isolate them and apprehend members.
However, these proscribed organisations find a way around such gagging measures. Many have cosmetically changed the name of their outfit and are now operating under new ones. Along with changing their names, some are also operating as a political, charity or religious wing of a political or religious party. For example, Jamaat ud Dawa is a political front for Lashkar-e-Taiba. Similarly, Khuddam-ul-Islam is reportedly a restructuring of the Jaish-e-Muhammad.
Still, the government has also been imposing bans on the renamed fronts of proscribed outfits, which partly explains the rise in bans imposed.
Nonetheless, terrorist, militant and/or separatist groups keep springing up. “It is clear that the emergence of an intense, multinational war in Afghanistan, a safe haven straddling the border, and Pakistan’s role in the war on terror has (and continues to) induce growth in militant groups,” said Tom Sanderson, the co-director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, DC.
“We should not ignore a secondary cause, which is the heightened Sunni-Shia confrontation that may have led some groups to emerge or expand,” he explained. Overall, it is the presence of outside forces in Afghanistan that stimulates the growth of militant groups in Pakistan, Sanderson concluded.
The Government of Pakistan, in an attempt to quash the growth of these organisations, imposes a ban under The Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. According to the law, once an organisation is declared proscribed, all its offices must be sealed, its publications and literature seized, addresses and dissemination prohibited and its finances frozen under Article 11-E.
However, organisations were still able to manoeuvre around the law and milk existing loopholes.
Therefore, the law was amended and the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act 2013 expanded the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Courts and instituted clauses to outlaw militant sectarian outfits and freeze their financial assets. The amendment empowered the federal government to ban an organisation “if it has a reason to believe that organisation is concerned with terrorism.”
Former Inspector General Police Naveed Malik observed that a special committee usually headed by Interior Minister or Interior Secretary decides whether the ban should be imposed on an organisation or not. “The growing network of terrorist organisations leads the government to ban the maximum number of outfits involved in suspicious or unlawful activities,” he said.
What happens when an outfit is banned?
According to Article 11-E of The Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, when any organisation is proscribed:
(1) Amongst other measures to be taken by the Federal Government
a. It offices, if any, shall be sealed;
b. Its accounts, if any shall be frozen;
c. All literature, posters, banners or printed, electronic, digital or other material shall be seized
d. Publication, printing or dissemination of any press statements, press conferences or public utterances on behalf of or in support of a proscribed organisation shall be prohibited
(2) The proscribed organisation shall submit all accounts of its income and expenditure for its political and social welfare activities and disclose all funding sources to the competent authority designated by the Federal Government.
Outfits banned in Gilgit-Baltistan
– Gilgit and East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement
– Khana-e-Hikmat Gilgit-Baltistan
– Tanzweem Naujawanaan-e-Ahle Sunnat
– Anjuman-e-Imamia Gilgit-Baltistan
– Markaz Sabeel Organisation
– Muslim Students’ Organisation
– Shia Talba Action Committee
Baloch separatist groups
– Balochistan Bunyad Parast Army
– Balochistan Liberation Army
– Balochistan Liberation Front
– Balochistan Liberation United Front
– Baloch Musalla Difa Tanzeem
– Balochistan National Liberation Army
– Balochistan Republican Army
– Baloch Republican Party Azad
– Baloch Student Organisation Azad (newly added)
– Balochistan United Army aka United Baloch Army (newly added)
– Balochistan Waja Liberation Army
Top 10: most dangerous terrorist groups
– Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan
– Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan
– Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan
– Jamaatud Dawa
– alRasheed Trust
– alAkhtar Trust
Outfits other than TTP in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
– Haji Namdar Group
– Qari Abid group (rival TTP factions)
– Noorullah group (rival TTP factions)
– Waliur Rehman group (rival TTP factions)
– Nizam group (rival TTP factions)
– Tauheed group (rival TTP factions)
Most active in Punjab
– Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (also active in Karachi)
– Ansarul Islam
– Hizb ut-Tahrir
– Islamic Students Movement of Pakistan
– Islamic Jihad Union (newly added)
– Jamaat-ul-Furqan (JeM splinter group)
– Jamiatul Ansar
– Khairunnisa International Trust
– Khuddam-ul-Islam (former JeM)
– Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan (new name of Sipah-e-Sahaba)
– Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan
– Tehreek-e-Jaafria Pakistan
– Tehreek-e-Nifaz Shariat-e- Muhammad
Proscribed in Sindh
– Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz
– Peoples Amn Committee
– Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (very active in Karachi)
– Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (very active in Karachi)
Other transnational and local outlawed groups
– Al Harmain Foundation
– Tahafuz Hadudullah
– Islam Mujahideen
– Abdullah Azam Brigade
– Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
– Islamic Jehad Union (newly added)
– Rabita Trust
New wings of the Tehreek-e-Taliban
– 313 Brigade
– Amar Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil
– Tariq Geedar Group
– Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat
– Tehreek-e-Taliban Mohmand
– Tehreek-e-Taliban Bajaur