AS the holy festival of Eid-ul-Azha is approaching, general public must ensure that their alms and charity do not aid those people who are involved in murderous rampage in the country. Those mosques, Madaris (religious seminaries) and charity organizations should not be given hides and skins of sacrificial animals that have any association with the militant groups like Al-Qaeda, Daesh and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or their affiliated organizations. Different organizations are linked with these banned groups and other extremist outfits which are operating under the guise of welfare organizations. It is notable that the major terror and sectarian outfits such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan etc are clandestinely, operating, but still there is no appropriate move from the government to prevent them from collection of hides of animals. Some groups along with foreign funded organizations are collecting hides without any official permit or NOC from the Interior Ministry.
However, illegal collection of hides is a common observation, as some organizations, including mobile phone corporations, get on an aggressive campaign of collecting hides from door to door in every neighbourhood. Besides, hide collection is a money-spinning business worth billions of rupees through export, the activists of political and religious parties, including banned militant outfits vigilantly do whatever it takes to ensure they fetch the maximum number of hides to earn profit. Notably, in metropolitan cities like Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar; various banned groups changed their names and set up charities to continue collection of hides under various banners and posters, appealing for hide donations from public. To what extent this practice distorts Pakistan’s image abroad could be judged from the report of the Guardian which under the caption, “Eid animal slaughter funds Pakistan terror groups,” wrote on 15 September 2016, “Huge numbers of goats, cows and even camels will be slaughtered in Pakistani homes to mark the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha…guarantee some much appreciated meat handouts to the poor…it will also generate an extraordinary cash windfall for some of Pakistan’s most dangerous militant groups.…there are fears that very little will be done to stop illegal groups from collecting hides either, particularly as many of them operate under false names…However, a thorough crackdown is unlikely…Muhammad Rizwan, the senior superintendent of police in Islamabad, said the issue was not as critical to public safety as preventing suicide bombers from getting into mosques or other large gatherings that will occur across the country in the coming days…while most people will give their hides to local mosques or respectable charities, some deliberately give to militants.”
It is mentionable that the National Action Plan (NAP) is essential part of Pakistan’s war against terrorism, as it has co-relationship with the military operation Zarb-i-Azb against the militants, including other related-issues of Madaris. One of the important points of the NAP is to stop funding of the militant groups, while introducing registration and reforms of Madaris. Public must be aware of the fact that Pakistan Army has given countless sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. In this respect, majority of terror attacks have been foiled/averted and it is only the rare incidents which manage to succeed. Being responsible citizens, we should be alert and refrain from unknown hide-collectors who could collect hides of the sacrificial animals, under the guise of the banned groups. People must know that this will make them equally responsible of terrorists’ sins and crimes.
Particularly, there should be a strict watch from government side on all charitable organizations. Action must be taken against illegal hide-collectors and their financial channels must be traced to avoid or deter the terrorist groups from executing their activities which we have witnessed in the country. Disrupting terrorists’ financing network is essential to combat terrorism as without effective check on terrorist financing—fight against terrorism may not produce desired results. Though the government has taken a number of steps to curb flow of terrorists’ funds, yet it requires extensive media campaign to create awareness in general public regarding terrorists fund-raising system. The real faces of terrorists must also be unveiled to deny their monetary support.
People must be informed, especially through the electronic media that charitable hides are actually aimed at helping poor masses, beggars, needy orphans and widows. The money, generated by them is also spent on mosques, Madaris and preaching of Islam. Militant organizations collect hides of sacrificial animals on Eid-ul-Azha under various pretexts including Madaris, Jihad and welfare of aggrieved and deprived Muslims, but the money generated by them is spent on suicide bombings and other terrorist activities. While, many Ulema (religious scholars) have issued Fatwas (Religious verdicts) that it is not permissible to give hides of sacrificial animals to these anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan organizations. Again such Fatwas must be issued.
The government must instruct the law-enforcing agencies to remove the banners and posters, asking animal hide donations which will, directly or indirectly, benefit militant outfits otherwise, such charity organizations will remain a serious concern, because many of them are responsible for spreading militancy by means of enormous financial support they receive from public as charity. Now, this ‘different war’ demands cooperation of the people with the security agencies, which is essential to win this war against terrorism. Hence, public must be bewared, while donating hides of sacrificial animals to the deserving people and institutes, as the militant groups can again avail the opportunity.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.