Pakistan cracks down on illegal donations ahead of Eid ul Adha
PESHAWAR -- Pakistani authorities have imposed ban on a number of radical groups from collecting animal hides during the upcoming celebration of Eid ul Adha, scheduled to begin September 2.
Last year Punjab and Sindh provinces enacted similar bans to prevent extremist groups from engaging in the lucrative business.
The order, issued by the Interior Ministry on August 24, is part of overall efforts to cut funding sources for terrorism. It listed 65 proscribed outfits, among them Lashkar-e-Jangvi, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan and many others.
"Only those organisations can collect hides who have procured NOCs [No Objection Certificates] from Deputy Commissioners of their respective areas," the order reads.
Authorities will closely monitor hide collection and register violations under the Anti-Terrorism Act, warned the government.
Collecting donations during Eid and Ramadan -- often from unwitting donors who do not recognise renamed extremist fronts -- is the main source of revenue for radical groups, said Aqeel Yousafzai, a Peshawar journalist and security analyst.
"Unless the financial supply of these organisations is choked off ... the goal of eradicating terrorism from the country cannot be achieved," he told Pakistan Forward.
"People are advised to donate to reputable organisations working for the welfare of humanity," said Maulana Muhammad Tayyab, central khatib (prayer leader) of Mohabbat Khan Mosque in Peshawar.
Dozens of reputable charities and religious outfits render sincere efforts to serve humanity and they deserve donations, he told Pakistan Forward.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tightens noose
The effort ahead of Eid ul Adha nationwide comes while provinces like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) aim to choke off terrorist funding in general.
In late July, the KP Home and Tribal Affairs Department issued written instructions to the district administrations, police and intelligence agencies about monitoring illegal donations.
"It is a timely measure to plug streams of resources from which different terrorist outfits finance acts of sabotage to frighten the general population," Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah of Peshawar, a former KP secretary of home and tribal affairs, told Pakistan Forward.
Hidayatur Rehman, a retired Peshawar police officer, agreed.
"All the terrorists need is money to purchase explosives, get vehicles and human resources and enact their plan on the field," he told Pakistan Forward.
Terrorist groups rely on donations, he said. "[They] pretend to run charities or help run religious schools," he added.
Raising awareness, conducting audits
KP has launched a public awareness drive to inform the public about terror financing.
"We asked the relevant departments to launch a public awareness campaign to stem the tide of illegal fund collections," said Sajjad Khan, a senior superintendent of police in Peshawar.
Under the new directives, KP Police and district administrations have begun investigating the collection of funds for mosques and seminaries, he said.
"We are considering the source of funding for charities that are registered with the [KP] government," added Khan.
Only charities and other organisations that have registered with the government will be allowed to collect donations, he said.
The registration requirement is meant to ensure that groups seeking donations undergo regular audits, KP Information Minister Shah Farman told Pakistan Forward.
KP Police stations have orders to register cases against organisations breaking the law, Farman added.
Such steps are a way to consolidate improvements in security that Pakistan has enjoyed in recent years, said Peshawar-based security analyst Khadim Hussain.
"It is imperative that we stop [extremists] from receiving money improperly," he told Pakistan Forward. "In the past ... it went to sponsor terrorism."
[Adeel Saeed contributed to this report]