https://pakistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_pf/features/2020/07/28/feature-02
Terrorism

Authorities monitoring hide collection during Eid to prevent terror financing

By Ashfaq Yusufzai

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A man checks the teeth of a camel at a cattle market in Peshawar July 25 to determine its age for slaughter on Eid ul Adha. [Shahbaz Butt]

PESHAWAR -- Pakistani authorities are working to monitor the collection of animal hides during Eid ul Adha to prevent donations from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Eid ul Adha is set to begin August 1 in Pakistan. Pakistanis donate the hides of sacrificial animals, which can bring in more than Rs. 5 billion ($31 million) at markets serving the leather industry.

Terror organisations that Pakistan banned as part of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, which sanctions al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, may not collect hides, according to an order issued by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Home and Tribal Affairs Department on July 20.

The Interior Ministry has issued such directives to all provinces to ensure that terror outfits disguised as charities do not receive animal hides and use the funds for terrorism, said Deputy Commissioner Peshawar Muhammad Ali Asghar.

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A view of a livestock market in Peshawar July 21. Residents buy and sell animals for the upcoming Eid ul Adha. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

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The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government issued guidelines for the collection of hides during Eid ul Adha. A notice was published in local newspapers July 22. [Ashfaq Yusufzai]

"We have asked the charity organisations willing to collect animal hides during Eid ul Adha to give applications to the government stating that they don't have any relations with banned outfits," Asghar said.

"After receiving affidavits from the charities, we will scrutinise and permit the lawful groups. The measure seeks to ensure that the outlawed groups don't receive money or finance terrorism," he said.

The government is committed to meet the conditions set forth by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to remove Pakistan from its grey list, said Kamran Khan Bangash, special assistant to the KP chief minister.

The Paris-based inter-governmental organisation in June 2018 placed Pakistan on the grey list for failing to act against money laundering and terror financing.

The FATF extended to September a deadline for Islamabad to complete an action plan aimed at meeting the FATF's requirements.

Authorities will "strictly monitor" banned outfits, Bangash said.

The government's directives ban the use of loudspeakers by charity groups and the district administration will designate locations for genuine groups to receive hides during Eid, according to Bangash.

"We have elaborated plans in collaboration with the district administrations to monitor the activities of the groups involved in hide collection," he said.

"Pakistan has suffered immensely at the hands of terrorists and cannot afford violence anymore," Bangash said, adding that last Ramadan the federal government issued similar directives to prevent banned terror groups from receiving funds.

"We need to pay more attention on the activities of terror outfits at a time when militant groups have gone into hibernation due to government action. We want to deny them sources of financing so they do not stage a comeback," he said.

Preventing terrorism

"The terror groups have been collecting hides, donations, fitrana and zakat, claiming that they spend the amount on education and the health of the marginalised, like orphans and the poor," said Muhammad Shoaib of Peshawar, a religious scholar.

"But in fact, they buy arms and ammunition and recruit suicide bombers who are used to carry out acts of terrorism," he said.

"In the past several months, we have seen the government-sponsored awareness campaign against the menace of terror financing, which is depriving such groups of the donations they received in the past," Shoaib said.

The focus of the government is on curbing money laundering in line with the instructions of the FATF, said Shahzad Akbar, special assistant to the prime minister on accountability and interior.

"The provincial governments have been asked to take measures to stop funds to the militant organisations," he said.

"We cannot allow terror groups or individuals to take such donations," he said.

Kidnappings for ransom and extortion were the main sources of funding in the past for terrorists, said University of Peshawar political scientist Shabbir Ali.

"The reduction in terrorism is the result of the government's steps aiming to plug their channels of financing. The government should further tighten up the law, and militancy will end," he said.

Militants used the name of Islam to forward their agenda of frightening the public to maintain their illegitimate rule, Ali said.

However, the drive that started against militancy in 2014 in the shape of Operation Zarb-e-Azb has proved to be the last nail in the coffin of terrorists, he said.

To preserve these gains, the government needs to further step up its actions against all kinds of terrorists to achieve lasting peace in the region, he added.

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