By letting a UN-proscribed global terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), to openly seek funds for jihad in Peshawar and other cities during the Eid celebrations, Pakistan has violated a key redline set by the global anti-terrorist financing watchdog, FATF, in letting the country off the greylist last year.
According to local residents, members of JeM were reportedly seeking funds for jihad in Kashmir and Palestine in Bagh-e-Naran, a suburb on the outskirts of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in April this year.
Several Pakistani Twitter users have since pointed out that similar fundraising activities by extremist groups were happening in other areas as well. Many of them said these fund-raisings have been a regular feature at many mosques, sometimes under the protection of security personnel. There were other Twitter statements showing terrorist groups openly seeking funds in mosques in Karachi.
The Eid fund raising by JeM clearly proves that Pakistan has failed to keep its promise to FATF to curtail terrorist funding.
In June 2021, FATF had declined to let off Pakistan from the greylist citing laxity in taking action against proscribed terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), JeM and similar entities. The FATF said despite completing 26 of the 27 tasks it had been handed, Pakistan’s failure to complete the last task on convicting terrorists and terror entities meant it would not be delisted for now. The same group is now freely seeking funds for terrorist activities.
In fact, JeM had been active even as Pakistan was freed of sanctions by FATF last year. Photographic evidence had emerged of JeM carrying out large-scale construction work at its sprawling Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah headquarters in Bahawalpur. This was almost three years after the Punjab government had reportedly seized the JeM property in February 2019 following the Pulwama attack. Over 40 Indian para-military soldiers were killed when a JeM suicide bomber crashed a explosive-laden truck into a convoy in Pulwama on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.
Pakistan had claimed in its testimonies before FATF that JeM had been banned since 2002, within months of the group’s attack on the Parliament House in New Delhi in 2001. The group, with the aid of the Pakistan Army,
had moved to Afghanistan to supplement the Afghan Taliban fighting the US-led forces. The United Nations Security Council monitors reporting in May 2022 stated that JeM operated eight training camps in Nangarhar, three of which were under Taliban control. The JeM has a long tie-up with the Afghan Taliban. When JeM leader, Masood Azhar, was freed after the Indian Airlines hijacking incident in December 1999, he was welcomed and given shelter by the Afghan Taliban leadership in Kandahar.
Fundraising by jihadi groups during Eid was a common practice in the recent past. Since a greater scrutiny came to bear on such terrorist fundraising, Pakistan had restricted such events but never stopped. Terrorist groups have been using devious methods to carry out such activities recently.