KARACHI: Amid crackdown against terrorist groups under National Action Plan, the banned militant outfits continue their activities like collecting funds, extorting money from citizens, bombings, targeted killings and kidnappings, independent observers and studies reveal.
Sindh Rangers had launched the Karachi Operation in the largest commercial city of Pakistan on September 5, 2013 to uproot terrorism. In January 2015, the government announced NAP against terrorists groups and their facilitators in the wake of Army Public School, Peshawar Attack that further strengthened the Karachi Operation.
The Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) launched ‘The NAP Tracker’ on May 25, 2015, to monitor implementation of the NAP. The NAP Tracker’s findings recorded a 53 percent decrease in the targeted killing, 30 percent decrease in robberies and 56 percent in extortion cases in Karachi during the last two years.
Despite these successes, the banned groups remain unstoppable in Karachi. Kidnapping of Awais Shah, son of the Sindh High Court’s chief justice, attacks on military and police vehicles and continuous targeted killings are still a question mark to the government’s claims about success, says Wajahat Masood, an analyst and columnist.
“CRSS study and kidnapping of Awais Shah indicate that the banned outfits are not only showing their strong presence but carrying out their malignant activities throughout the city,” said Muhammad Anees, a research fellow at the CRSS.
Some of the banned militant groups launched a fund raising campaign during the Islamic month of Ramadan in July 2016. Muslims pay zakat and fitra to support the underprivileged classes during Ramadan. A video clip of ‘jihadis’ collecting funds outside a local mosque in presence of para-military personnel went viral.
These banned outfits also collect money from common citizens, which has affected welfare and charity organizations. Edhi Foundation, the biggest charity organization in Pakistan, observed a 20 percent decrease in donations during the Karachi Operation.
“Since, the banned outfits and radical Islamic organizations are collecting funds freely, we are receiving less donations,” claimed Faisal Edhi, the new head of Edhi Foundation.
He told News Lens Pakistan that the banned groups had recruited thousands of jobless men to collect donations. The NAP was meant to uproot terrorism in Pakistan by eliminating the terror groups and their financial networks.
The biggest Deobandi Organization Sipah e Sahaba was banned but it renamed itself and got active as Alhle Sunnat Wal Jamat (ASWJ). Umer Muawia, a spokesperson of ASWJ in Karachi told News Lens Pakistan, “ASWJ carries out its activities in Sindh from its Karachi office.” He said that philanthropists of the city donate funds to ASWJ, which is the major source of their funding.
He said, “We receive Zakat, fitra and other donations. These donations are utilized to support the workers of ASWJ and their families, especially those who are victims of terrorism.” He categorically denied ASWJ’s links with the defunct SSP.
Anees is of the view that Pakistani authorities have failed to uproot the terrorists and their financial networks in accordance with the NAP. “The terrorists changed their strategy after the Karachi Operation and found hideouts in safer areas in Pakistan.”
He said, “Though the crime rate has decreased in the city after the operation, the terrorists have succeeded in conveying their message and establishing their presence by kidnapping Awais Shah and attacking a military vehicle.”
The Government of Sindh submitted a report to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on August 11, 2016, during the proceedings of the Karachi’s law and order case. The report says, “Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) have conducted 17,000 joint and individual operations in Karachi against terrorists.”
Karachi Police Chief Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar told News Lens Pakistan, “The LEAs are on the right track. Sporadic attacks were expected during the operation which occurred. We have evolved a comprehensive strategy against the terrorists and the LEAs are strictly following the designed plan.” Mahar said that come what may, the militants and banned outfits will be wiped out.
This article originally appeared in News Lens and has been reproduced with permission.