[Reader-list] Daily Time, Pakistan, Editorial: Closet Taliban?

S. Jabbar sonia.jabbar at gmail.com
Thu Mar 4 11:15:09 IST 2010

Daily Time, Pakistan, Editorial: Closet Taliban?

It is a matter of extreme concern that a provincial law minister has been
seen pandering to a banned organisation¹s senior leader. Rana Sanaullah, who
happens to be Punjab¹s Law Minister, either forgot his own designation
during his recent visit to Jhang or was suffering from amnesia when he took
Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) leader Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi on a
ride in his car. He also visited the banned organisation¹s madrassa. Is it
not ironic that the law minister gave full protocol to a sectarian outfit¹s
leader, an organisation that has officially been banned by the government?
Thus it was all but inevitable that there was an uproar over Rana Sanaullah
giving official patronage to Ludhianvi in the National Assembly.

Mr Sanaullah was on a by-election campaign for a provincial assembly seat in
Jhang, but it cannot be said with certainty if he paid a visit to the
seminary for electoral purposes or deep-rooted extremist linkages. Even if
it was for purely electoral purposes, should the law minister have taken
along a sectarian leader with him on an election campaign? According to a
report, ŒPakistan: The Militant Jihadi Challenge¹ by the International
Crisis Group published in 2009, ³The recent upsurge of jihadi violence in
Punjab...demonstrates the threat extremist Sunni-Deobandi groups pose to the
Pakistani citizen and state...Punjab-based radical Deobandi groups like the
SSP and its offshoot Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) provide weapons, recruits,
finances and other resources to Pakistani Taliban groups...The SSP and LJ
are also al Qaeda¹s principal allies in the region.² Being a provincial law
minister, Rana Sanaullah should have all this information. He should take
effective measures to curb extremism and sectarianism in Punjab. Instead he
opted for hobnobbing with the leaders of such militant outfits. Some
lawmakers from Punjab had raised this issue in the National Assembly last
year as well, protesting that the activities of banned outfits in Jhang were
going unchecked. Just last month, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed
addressed a seminar in Lahore. The Punjab government needs to be reminded
that the JuD is just a new name of the banned terror outfit,
Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT). In January 2002, General Musharraf banned some
jihadi outfits and launched a crackdown, but it was a complete failure as
most of these groups renamed themselves before the ink had even dried on the
proscription papers. JuD is a classic example. To let its leader address a
seminar in Lahore is a grave violation of the rule of law. The judiciary
should also take note of this as the Indian government has accused Hafiz
Saeed of masterminding the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.

The Punjab government has long been in denial over the presence of terror
outfits in Punjab, particularly South Punjab. The audacity of the PML-N to
call itself a Œprogressive¹ party ‹ at best, it is a centre-right party ‹
when it is pursuing such policies should serve as a wake up call for the
people of Pakistan. If we want to rid our country of extremist ideology, our
lawmakers should set an example instead of giving official patronage to
terror outfits. An appeal to the Punjab government: stop living in denial
and take effective measures to make our country safe from extremist
elements. *

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