PAKISTAN: The government bans secular and nationalist groups to appease the fundamentalist and Taliban groups
ISSUES: Freedom of expression; assemblies; right to make associations; liberty
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the government of Pakistan, in an effort to show the international community that it is taking action against the fundamentalist and religious terrorist organizations, has revealed its continued loyalties towards the Taliban and similar terrorist groups by banning the three secular and nationalist organizations including a student organization from Balochistan. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has issued notification for banning 10 religious extremist organizations but has not yet taken even token action against the Madressas (Muslim religious seminaries) which are the recruiting centers for terrorists. Instead the authorities have cracked down against the workers of the secular parties. Speedy action were taken against a Sindh based nationalist organization, Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) many of whose workers have been abducted by unknown persons believed to be from the state intelligence agencies.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior has issued an order on March 15, 2013, just one day before the dissolution of the government, according to which 13 religious terrorist organizations and three secular nationalist organizations that had been fighting against religious fundamentalism, talibanization and extremism were banned. The three nationalist organizations, Baloch Student organization-Azad (BSO-A), United Baloch Army (UBA) and Jeay Sindh Muttehida Mahaz (JSMM) were included among the Muslim terrorist groups, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Swat (TTS), Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTM), Tariq Geedar Group (TGG), Abdullah Azam Brigade, East Turkmanistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Islamic Jehad Union (IJU), 313 Brigade, Tehrik-e-Taliban Bajur (TTB) and Amar Bin Maroof Wa Nahi Munkir (Haji Namdar GP). These groups were very prominent and proudly claiming that they have suicide bombers and will continue their attacks on different religious groups which they believe to be infidel.
Please find the attached notification from the Ministry of the Interior here.
The religious terrorist groups have always remained dear to the state and its intelligence agencies. It is no longer a secret that these groups are collecting funds on the streets and running terrorist recruiting centers in the cities including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. All these groups have received training from retired army officers who have been identified in the media and international reports. The governments and its intelligence agencies are well aware of the training centers and recruiting seminaries of these terrorist organizations but to-date no action has been taken.
However, conversely, the authorities have already started action against the banned secular and nationalist organizations to punish them for being against the Talibanisation of society. JSMM has been one of the most vocal and active organisation struggling for the historical and political rights of people of Sindh and in the last few years a number of its leaders have been abducted, tortured and murdered. Members of the central Body of JSMM were abducted, killed and even burnt alive, including Muzafar Bhutto, Sirai Qurban Khuhawar, Noorullah Tunio, Samiullah Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Kolachi and Aijaz Solangi. Besides this, many of the JSMM activists have been abducted and kept under brutal physical and mental torture to admit and accept the accusations of their involvement in any of terrorist activity, but none of them has ever held himself responsible for such type of activity. Even up to today, after a 12 year long mission of state operations against the JSMM state agencies have failed to produce even a single person in the court. Nor have they produced anything even a single piece of paper which can provide any evidence against JSMM activists of being guilty in the eyes of law.
For further reading, please see:
The Baloch Students Organisation-Awami (BSO-A) has a history of four decades in working for the uplifting and promotion of education in the Baloch province. Since the military operations in the province the BSO-A was always targeted by the state intelligence agencies for holding protests against the military occupation and the seizure of educational institutions as camps for soldiers. Many of its leaders were abducted and murdered in torture camps of the law enforcement agencies. The purpose of banning the BSO-A was to punish the students and youth for showing their anger against the state repression.
For further reading on this issue, please see:
The Baloch nationalists deny the existence of any organization with the name of ‘United Baloch Army’ but the nationalist groups say that to undermine the freedom of movement of the Baloch people the government and the military always accuse the nationalist movement as being terrorist movements.
The action of banning the nationalist and secular organizations is to appease the Muslim terrorist organizations like the Taliban and Al-Qaida reveals that the government is against the secular forces. It is an attempt to liken and compare them to the religious terrorist groups who are killing the citizens in suicide bombings on the basis of sectarian hate.
The action of the federal authorities is not only blatant violations of articles 15, 16, 17, and 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan but also violations of articles 18, 19 and 22 of the UN International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Please write the letters to the following authorities calling on them to stop the victimization of the secular and nationalist groups who are fighting against religious fundamentalism, talibanization, Jihadi frenzy and extremism in the name of Islam. Please urge them to lift the ban from the Jeay Sindh Muttehida Mahaz, Baloch Student Organisation-Azad. The government must also prosecute those officers who are punishing the peaceful organizations who are struggling against the Talibanisation of the society.
The AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression calling for their interventions into this matter.