Facing global pressure, Pakistan govt takes control of Jaish headquarters

Lahore: Bowing down to intense international pressure to rein in militant groups operating from its soil, the Pakistan government on Friday took over the administrative control of the headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the terror outfit which claimed responsibility for the deadly Pulwama suicide attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.

The move came a day after the powerful UN Security Council comprising 15 nations, including Pakistan’s key ally China, named Jaish in a statement condemning in the “strongest terms” the “heinous and cowardly” terror attack perpetrated by Pakistan-based JeM in Pulwama and stressed on the need to hold organisers and financiers of such “reprehensible acts” accountable and bring them to justice.

The Punjab government has taken over the control of the JeM headquarters in Bahawalpur, about 400 km from Lahore, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told PTI.

“The government of Punjab has taken over the control of a campus comprising Madressatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur, allegedly the headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammad, and appointed an administrator to manage its affairs,” the minister said.

The campus has a faculty of 70 teachers and currently 600 students were studying in it, a statement issued by the Interior Ministry said, adding that the Punjab police is providing security and protection to the campus.

The crackdown on Jaish “has been taken in line with the decision of the National Security Committee meeting held on Thursday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan”, it said.

Pakistan on Thursday also banned the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamat-ud-Dawa and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation.

Earlier, the two outfits were kept on the watchlist of the interior ministry.

Pakistan deletes takeover announcement

  • After taking control of a campus in Bahawalpur , Pakistan’s Interior Ministry on Friday announced that the Punjab government the information on the website of the Press Information Department, only to delete it in less than an hour.
  • Two tweets by PID, Pakistan government’s media arm, which did not link the campus comprising Madressatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah to the Jaish were not deleted.
  • Pakistan’s Dawn News later reported that the interior ministry had issued a fresh statement, claiming that the Bahawalpur complex was “purely a madressah and Jamia Masjid (central mosque) where scores of orphans and students from underprivileged families are receiving religious and worldly education”.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.

Meanwhile, Paris-headquartered international terror financing watchdog FATF on Friday also condemned the Pulwama terror attack and decided to continue the ‘Gray’ listing of Pakistan for its failure to stop funding of terrorist groups such as JeM, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamat-ud-Dawa.

In a statement, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said, “Pakistan has revised its TF (terror financing) risk assessment. However, it does not demonstrate a proper understanding of the TF risks posed by Da’esh (ISIS), AL-Qaida, JuD (Jamat-ud-Dawa), FIF (Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation), LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad), HQN (Haqqani Network) and persons affiliated with the Taliban.”

The FATF continuing Pakistan with the ‘Gray’ listing means downgrading of the country by multilateral lenders like IMF, World Bank, ADB, EU and also a reduction in risk rating by Moody’s, S&P and Fitch.

(With inputs from PTI)