Islamabad/New Delhi (Agencies/Newsin.asia): Both India and Pakistan are now going after extremists in their respective countries in an effort to curb unrest and mischief. Simultaneously, the international community is putting pressure on both to start talking to each other to defuse the tense situation.
In Pakistan the authorities intensified the crackdown against banned organizations on Thursday, with the government announcing it had taken control of 182 seminaries or madrasas and detained more than 100 people as part of its push against proscribed groups.
The move represents Pakistan’s biggest move against banned organizations in years and appears to be targeting Islamic welfare organisations that the United States says are a front for militant activities.
Officials say that the crackdown is part of a long-planned drive and is in accordance with the National Action Plan (NAP).
The Interior Ministry said law enforcement agencies had placed 121 people in “preventive detention” as part of the crackdown that began this week.
“Provincial governments have taken in their control management and administration of 182 seminaries (madrasas)”, the ministry said in a statement.
The Interior Ministry added other institutions from different groups had been taken over, including 34 schools, 163 dispensaries, 184 ambulances, five hospitals and eight offices of banned organizations.
Many banned groups run seminaries, which counter-terrorism officials say are used as recruiting grounds for militant outfits.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which operates hospitals and a fleet of ambulances, is estimated to run about 300 madrassas across the country. Pakistan’s government banned the group this week.
JuD calls itself a humanitarian charity but the US State Department has designated it a “foreign terrorist organization” and calls it a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
JuD called the crackdown unfair and said it would seek to counter the government action in courts.
Meanwhile in the Indian part of Kashmir, on Thursday, authorities extended the detention of two Hurriyat leaders in occupied Kashmir, holding them under a controversial law that allows for suspects to be held for up to two years without charge.
The order is part of a crackdown on “militancy and those who demand Kashmir’s secession from India.
Police detained Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik and Zahid Ali, a spokesman for the recently banned Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) party, days after the attack.
Jamaat-e-Islami said last week it had not done anything to invite the ban. The group could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
A JKLF spokesperson condemned the “arbitrary arrest” and the use of the Public Safety Act against Malik, calling it a “glaring display of frustration” of occupying authorities.
Imprisoned as a freedom fighter in 1990, Malik renounced violence and declared a ceasefire in 1994, but he has been imprisoned multiple times since then.
Malik’s supporters called for a shutdown in Srinagar to protest against his detention with shops and other commercial establishments closed.
The All Parties Hurriyat Conference, (APHC) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other leaders have called for a strike in occupied Kashmir on Friday.
A senior Indian government official said at least 25 other leaders, most of them affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami, could be detained.
At least 300 Kashmiris, most of them from that group have been arrested in the past three weeks.
Amit Shah, the president of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, said last week the government had made it clear to the freedom fighters that “if they want to live in India, they will have to speak the language of India, not Pakistan’s”.
Pakistan Under Pressure from Financial Action Task Force
After a long time of being “grey listed” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistan has finally been issued an ultimatum.
Pakistan’s stand in the global community has seen a fall because of the country’s inaction against the United Nations (UN) designated terrorists and groups residing in the country.
From Donald Trump telling Pakistan to “do more” to India pointing fingers across the border after the Pulwama attack, there is no option left but to address the elephant in the room.
However, the question remains: why do we have to wait for international pressure to mount in order to tackle these extremists groups, which are a threat to our own existence and peace?
Says Pakistani columnist Imad Zafar in The Express Tribune: “Pakistan has time and again stated that it does not support extremists to fulfil its strategic goals. The world, however, is not ready to accept this narrative anymore. Our country has for so long stayed silent on this matter because these groups have not wreaked havoc in Pakistan, while we have tackled other groups in the meantime.”
“The video of JeM, where the organization claimed responsibility of the Pulwama attack, has already pushed both Pakistan and India to the brink of war. If these groups can allegedly launch attacks on foreign soil without any help, one can only imagine their reaction when the state takes action against them.”
“This could have been done much earlier and we could have avoided these groups spreading their narrative and becoming stronger. Just like the Army Public School (APS) attack shook us out of our ‘good Taliban, bad Taliban’ mindset, we need to understand that there are no good extremists or bad extremists.”
“Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed enjoy the backing of the masses; even some renowned celebrities have voiced their support for them, mainly due to their anti-India agenda. This should not be the criteria to consider an extremist harmless.”
“Pakistan needs to act against extremist groups who use religion and patriotism as shields to carry attacks anywhere. If we adopt half measures while still picking out ‘good extremists’ from bad ones, we will not only be unable to eradicate extremism from our country but will also be stuck in global isolation.”
“The state and the society need to decide whether they want to create ideas of Stephen Hawkings and Steve Jobs or they want to preserve the teachings of Saeed and Azhar.”
“However, if the state is serious about eliminating extremist groups then there needs to be a consensus between the political and military leadership. Therefore, this time around, there needs to be a clear and agreed resolution to get rid of these rotten narratives and extremist outfits once and for all.”
US For India-Pakistan Direct Talks
The US has confirmed that it is making efforts for ‘direct communication’ between Pakistan and India.
“The position of the United States is that we urge both sides to continue to take steps to de-escalate the situation, and that includes through direct communication,” Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department Robert Palladino told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.
He stressed that the US ‘strongly’ believed that “further military activity will exacerbate the situation”. The US official also said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had remained in touch both with Pakistan and India during the military standoff. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also acknowledged the positive role being played by the US in defusing the tensions between Pakistan and India.
(The featured image at the top shows an Islamic extremist group demonstrating in Pakistan)