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
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Sport
football
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?