[Image of Hindu Protests from Reuters]
On Wednesday, media outlets reported on various protests occurring in Pakistan in response to the government’s crackdown on the Jamat-ud-Dawa, an Islamic charity organization that many allege is a front group for the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Kashmiri-based militant group suspected of being behind last month’s Mumbai attacks, [see this recent CHUP piece for more background]. According to the Associated Press today, more than 100 children rallied against the United Nations “for branding the Pakistani charity that runs their schools a terrorist front.” The news agency added, “The girls and boys protesting Wednesday in Karachi claim the U.N.’s move is hampering their studies.”
Dawn cited officials in Balochistan today, who stated that the closure of the Jamat-ud-Dawa offices has “hampered earthquake relief in the area,” [the earthquake struck the province in October, see related post]. Abdul Basir, mayor of the quake-hit town of Rod Mullazai in southwestern Balochistan, said, [Jamat-ud-Dawa] were engaged in relief work, they were helping the affected families by providing shelter, warm clothing and food…” The charity said they would provide 600 new homes in the area, but have had to abandon the work following the ban.
Pakistan’s minorities also protested yesterday for the charity, reported GEO Television. According to the news channel, about 300 people from the Hindu and Christian communities demonstrated in Hyderabad, just north of Karachi. GEO noted, “Bhai Chand, a Hindu community leader, said Pakistani government restrictions recently imposed on Jamaat-ud-Dawa threatened their livelihood because the charity has set up a network of water wells in the desert.” He told the network, “The charity would always come to help us…I do not buy it that they are terrorists when they have always been helping us even though we are not Muslims,” [see video below].
It will be interesting to see if these protests will have any impact on those accusing the Jamat-ud-Dawa of being a terrorist front group. GEO cited U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who acknowledged the group’s “so-called charitable activities,” but still added the U.S. “learned the hard way, that sometimes these are too intertwined with organizations that have terrorist ties.”
Breaking News [1600 EST]: Dawn reported that investigators from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation “have concluded after interrogating the lone captured suspect, Ajmal Amir Kasab, that the Inter-Services Intelligence is not involved in the Mumbai attacks.” The news agency added, however, “The sources said that FBI investigators had also reached a conclusion that the attackers had come to Mumbai from Pakistan. The plan was hatched in Pakistan and terrorists were provided necessary training by Laskar-e-Toiba, according to the investigators.”