Pakistan bans groups from raising jihad funds By AAMIR SHAH
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Pakistan on Monday stopped its
religious parties from collecting funds for jihad and ordered them not to
display weapons at rallies and public meetings.
Police were ordered to shoot those who refused to surrender their weapons.
"No one is allowed to display arms, no more collection of funds in the
name of jihad," said Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider. "I am giving clear
orders to the police: stop people from displaying weapons and if they don't
listen, just shoot them."
The United States and other major powers have asked Pakistan to control
organizations that urge people to fight in the name of religion. Failure to
control these groups would "not only isolate Pakistan, but will also lead to
strife and civil war within the country," said a recent warning from the
U.S. State Department.
Mostly formed during the Afghan war against the Russian occupation forces
in the 1980s, the jihadi groups received weapons and training from Pakistani
and U.S. defense officials. When the Russians left Afghanistan in 1989, some
of these groups joined the separatists fighting against Indian rule in
As predicted by the international community, they soon got involved in
sectarian clashes between the majority Sunni and the minority Shiite Muslim
sects in Pakistan. Police said that hundreds have died in these clashes
during the past few years.
"There is no holy war going on any where in Pakistan that these groups be
allowed to do whatever they want," said Haider.
A recent high-level meeting on law and order also decided to remove
banners urging people to join such organizations and asking for funds.
"We will ensure strict enforcement of the ban on weapons, fund collection
and displaying jihadi banners," said Haider, hinting at a major crackdown
against the groups.
Military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf had promised to control religious
extremists when he toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999. But
he later adopted a soft approach when a proposed change in the controversial
blasphemy law caused a nationwide protest by religious parties.
"The government had its hands full, reforming the tax laws, fighting
traders who arranged week-long strikes against the new taxes, trying to save
the national economy from a total collapse. So we did not want to take on
the jihadis," said a senior official at the interior ministry.
"However, there is a general realization that none of these measures will
work unless the law and order situation improves and it cannot improve as
long as the government allows armed groups to function. So we decided to get
tough," he said.
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