Pakistan vows crackdown on banned charity

Pakistani authorities have ordered a fresh crackdown on a banned charity linked to militants blamed for the Mumbai attacks after dozens of its volunteers were discovered at the centre of Pakistan's emergency aid operation.

The move to act against a front group for Jamaat, the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FeIF) came just a day after The Independent discovered dozens of volunteers working to provide first aid and emergency assistance to refugees who have fled clashes between Pakistani troops and Taliban militants in the Swat Valley and surrounding area. Doctors, struggling to deal with flood of desperate and exhausted people, say the volunteers have been providing a crucial service in a situation where the government appears utterly overstretched.

Yesterday the Pakistani government said it was aware of reports of the charity's re-emergence and was ready to take action. "The interior ministry has directed that no banned organisation will be allowed to resume activities under the garb of humanitarian work," said a senior government official.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa was first banned following the Mumbai attacks last December that left 160 people dead, although many observers were sceptical at the time of the authorities' willingness to act against a high-profile organisation that was both locally popular and which had traditionally enjoyed links to Pakistan's military establishment. Jamaat volunteers have been active in the aftermath of natural calamities across the region from Sri Lanka to Kashmir.

How long it will take the government to act this time around remains unclear. Last night FeIF volunteers were still manning a base in the centre of a traffic island in the city of Mardan from where they were coordinating relief efforts. If anything, the group's presence, and the number of black and white flags bearing Jamaat's curved scimitar logo, appear to have grown in recent days.

Ten miles to the north, at the Jallala refugee camp, medics confirmed the ongoing role being played by the charity's staff. Professor Isa Khan, who was heading a clinic at the camp that is home to around 8,000 refugees from Swat, Buner and Lower Dir, said some of the charity's dozen ambulances had been delivering people to the camp after treatment at local hospitals. "The government is not doing very much. We do not have enough resources. We don't have enough medicine," he said.

Legal documents displayed by FeIF volunteers suggested the organisation was registered in Lahore in July 2007. Experts on Jamaat and its banned parent organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba - blamed for the Mumbai attacks - have suggested the front group could have been set up in anticipation of a crackdown. Volunteers said the FeIF was the new name for Jamaat.

Reports have identified the group's leader as Hafiz Abdur Rauf, a former head of Jamaat's humanitarian wing. In different interviews, Mr Rauf has made conflicting comments about the relationship between the FeIF and Jamaat. A spokesman for Jamaat, Yahya Mujahid, told the Associated Press: "We know the Pakistan government banned us under a UN order, but we are helping out brothers and sisters in those areas."

It appears that Jammat operates across large parts of Pakistan. Volunteers said the group had 350 ambulances and maintained stockpiles of emergency supplies in Lahore. It takes collections from across Pakistani society , from doctors to shopkeepers. Its members demonstrated in Lahore on Kashmir Day, last February.

The reemergence of Jamaat comes as the Pakistani military steps-up it operation against militants who have seized control of areas just 60 miles from Islamabad. Yesterday Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani said the country could beat the Taliban but lose the public relations war if it failed to help hundreds of thousands of people forced from their homes. "Militarily we will win the war but it will be unfortunate if we loose it publicly," he told the parliament.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific