The province of Sindh has become the hub of the banned extremist outfit, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).
As on previous occasions, the organisation was found to be operating under the guise of other bodies. The federal government has already expressed its concerns to the home ministry of Sindh; this time around it is the Sunni Raabta Committee that is overseeing the activities and providing a platform to expand the network and its agendas. This is not the first time that the outfit has used this tactic and it is certainly not the case that the authorities are unaware of it; this leave a huge question mark on their loyalty to the state and its security.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has formally written a letter to the Sindh Home Department to inform them of their concerns regarding the growing influence of the outfit in the region.
While it is the responsibility of the provincial government to resolve such matters, a case like that of ASWJ cannot be resolved unless and until the government in its entirety takes action against them and gets rid of the apologists within. And Sindh is not the only province – Punjab also has extremist problems of its own. Noted terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed have their pictures in posh localities of the provincial capital, asking the public for charity. With these organisations operating under other names, it is clear that we offer them protection and a way out despite their activities, which is what helps them thrive.
If dangerous groups such as ASWJ and Jamaat-ud-Dawa are allowed to run charitable organisations, operate twitter handles and conduct all the activities of other, legal organisations, should the presence of ASWJ in Sindh surprise us in the slightest?
It is a shame that men such as Molana Manzoor Solangi, the provincial president of ASWJ, Hafiz Muhammad Riaz, Ashraf Memon, and IIyas Farooqi – organisers – are all operating freely in the province. They are administrators of several seminaries – some on state land – where several Sindhi and Balochi students are getting education. This means that they have influence in the areas and can corrupt the minds of young individuals at their disposal. At the same time, they are also actively involved in local politics. People like Maulana Ludhianvi have no restriction on contesting in the elections.
This is a huge failure of the National Action Plan (NAP), and a sign of our misplaced priorities.
But what should one expect when there are people in government and the bureaucracy who want to bring these terrorists into mainstream politics and refuse to accept the danger of housing these outfits.