Cablegate: Jamaatud Dawa Ban Hastily Implemented in Punjab
O P 121513Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL LAHORE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3850
INFO AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY
AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY
AMCONSUL KOLKATA PRIORITY
AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY
AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L LAHORE 000318
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER EFIN PK IN
SUBJECT: JAMAATUD DAWA BAN HASTILY IMPLEMENTED IN PUNJAB
CLASSIFIED BY: Bryan Hunt, Principal Officer, Consulate Lahore, U.S. Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: Punjab police confirmed that they detained twelve Jamaatud Dawa (JUD) leaders and sealed their offices as part of a December 11-12 crackdown directed by the Ministry of the Interior. According to the police and eyewitness accounts, mosques, madrassahs and hospitals run by Jamaatud Dawa remained open. Politicians told poleconoff that they supported the ban, but criticized the quick manner in which the government shut down the organization. Police indicated that they will detain more leaders in days to come. This cable should be read in conjunction with septel from Islamabad which reports the view from the Ministry of Interior on detention of JUD leaders and the separate and earlier detention of LET militants by ISI. The process has been messy: even the highest officials of the government appear to have been somewhat confused by the legal grounds for the detentions and the progress of the captures. The press is already highly critical of the crackdown of JUD. End Summary.
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Punjab Police Detain Jamaatud Dawa Leaders
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2. (C) The Ministry of Interior directed Lahore police on the evening of December 11 to place the top leadership of Jamaatud Dawa (JUD) under a three-month preventive detention at their residences, police contacts told FSNI. As a result of the detention notices, police surrounded the Lahore residences of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Ameer Hamza (Publications Chief), Saif Ullah Mansoor (Member of the Central Executive), Yahya Mujahid (Chief Spokesperson), and Abu Umar (alias Kashif Niaz or Kashi) (Member of the Central Executive). JUD's Director of Public Relations Col. (R) Nazir Ahmed and Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makti (Member of the Central Executive) were also detained, and the police planned to transfer Col. Ahmed from Rawalpindi to Lahore. The Lahore police plan to detain Professor Zafar Iqbal (Chief of Fundraising) when he returns from Haj. Outside of Punjab, the police noted that orders are being prepared for Mufti Abdul Rehman (Member of the Central Executive), Maulana Zaki-ur Rehman (Member of the Central Executive) and Qari Muhammad Yaseen Baloch (Madrassa Chief). [Note: Media reported that the police arrested 25 JUD-affiliated workers; police only provided the above names. End Note.] Police told FSNI December 12 that they planned to detain more JUD leaders in the coming days. Police planned to submit formal, as-yet-unspecified criminal charges against the detainees and to place them on the Exit Control List, which would prevent them from leaving the country should bail be granted in the criminal cases on expiration of the preventive detention.
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Offices Sealed, Mosques Not Sealed
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3. (C) Lahore police confirmed that they sealed JUD headquarters at Jamia Qadsia in Chauburji Chowk, but refrained from shutting the mosque inside the headquarters because of the fear of a popular backlash. They have also seized furnishings, equipment, and other assets found in the JUD offices, and started preparations to seal the group's two publication houses in Lahore. They also affirmed that the FIA has frozen the organization's bank accounts.
4. (C) Police revealed that they have not received instructions to seal the schools, madrassahs or hospitals run by JUD, but they might seal the group's primary madrassah in Muridke. Urdu 24-hour news channel Samaa reported December 12 that the madrassah and offices in the Muridke facility were empty, but that two doctors continued to treat patients in the hospital.
5. (C) The Punjab Home Secretary detailed to FSNI December 12 that JUD owns 173 schools in Pakistan, three hospitals in Punjab (located in Muridke, Daska and Gujranwala), and 66 ambulances. [Note: We believe that the Home Secretary has grossly underestimated the number of schools run by JUD, which could exceed one thousand madrassahs in Punjab alone. End Note.] He expected that the Punjab government will decide whether to shut the schools and hospitals in the coming days. In addition to canceling publication rights, he also stated that the government will cancel JUD's arms licenses.
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6. (C) Lahore police remarked that the sudden directive from the Ministry of Interior preceded by several hours a similar order from the provincial government's Home Secretary, which came at 19:00 on December 11. While the Lahore police have started to communicate with other law enforcement agencies, they acknowledged that until December 12, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), CID and Special Branch had no role in the crackdown. In fact, FSNI observed a police officer sharing the list of detainees with an ISI officer who had inquired about the arrests.
7. (C) The provincial government appears to lack plans to deal with students and patients displaced from JUD hospitals and schools. The decision not to seal these assets is a stopgap measure as all these institutions run on a charitable basis and are dependent on JUD financing (now frozen). The Provincial Government's Secretary for Schools admitted that he had insufficient facilities to handle an influx of students into government schools when JUD schools close or the provincial staff/resources to keep the JUD schools open. The Secretary noted that his department had not yet been asked for input on the issue.
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Media Await Formal Notification of Blackout
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8. (C) Although the federal government banned December 11 the broadcast and publication of statements by JUD leaders, media contacts in Punjab indicated December 12 that they had not yet received the formal notification. This oversight allowed the press to report on Hafiz Saeed's December 11 press conference. Media organizations expected to receive the promised federal notice within a day and planned to comply.
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Politicians Support Ban But Criticize Haste
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9. (C) Mian Naseer Ahmed, a Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Lahore, told poleconoff December 12 that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) will support the crackdown on JUD. ""This is a really good, positive step that the government has taken, and will discourage other religious groups from this type of extremist behavior,"" he said. MPA Qasim Zia of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) underscored that the action came from the federal government, and he doubted that the PMLN will provide strong support for the ban. He noted that the PMLN had not issued a statement, and he expected that the party would ""stay quiet but privately admit it is the right thing to do."" Zia also thought that the JUD ban did not cover hospitals or schools.
10. (C) However, Chaudhry Shifaat Hussain, Gujrat District Nazim (mayor) of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), criticized the federal government's move as ""too quick."" He predicted that Pakistanis will view the crackdown as Pakistan answering to the United Nations, India and the U.S. ""They will say now India has started dictating everything,"" he related. He also noted that the lone JUD mosque in Gujrat remained open.
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Comment: Welcome Action, But Little Planning
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11. (C) The detentions of and likely filing of criminal charges against senior JUD leaders coupled with the closure of offices and seizure of financial and limited physical assets is unprecedented and suggests that the Pakistani government has decided to take credible action against the organization. The decision to leave JUD schools, mosques and hospitals temporarily open was a prudent measure indicative of a phased approach that could buy time to prevent a popular backlash. However, the provincial government does not appear to have a plan as to what to do with the students and medical patients who will inevitably be displaced as JUD's educational and medical establishments close their doors either under government pressure or for lack of funds. If a viable plan, which may require donor support, is not quickly evolved and implemented, a public backlash against the closures will inevitably result that could strain the political consensus that appears to be emerging on this issue.