ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan’s government appears to have relaxed its enforcement of a 5-year-old United Nations ban on the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization, which incurred the sanctions because of its militants’ alleged involvement in the November 2008 rampage in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people.
Two of Lashkar’s front organizations openly raised money this week as the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha got underway. No authorities made any effort to stop them – not a surprise, perhaps, because the groups have been known to work with the government when natural disaster strikes.
But the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate has kept a tight leash on Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization, since Pakistan told the United Nations it would enforce a ban on the group and its affiliates after the Mumbai assault. The attack destroyed the significant progress the two countries had made in settling the feud that had led to two wars and four localized conflicts since the nations were created when Britain ended its colonial rule in 1947.
Lashkar’s public resurgence follows the end in August of a decade-long cease-fire between Pakistani and Indian forces along the disputed border of the mountainous Kashmir state. Since then, Lashkar and other Pakistani militant groups with a history of terrorist activity in India have made a rapid comeback.
It wasn’t difficult for McClatchy to find them in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, on Wednesday, the first day of Eid al Adha, which commemorates the biblical tale of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son upon God’s command. Abraham’s hand was stayed by the angel Gabriel at the last moment and he was instructed to sacrifice a ram instead. Muslims who can afford to now mark the celebration with the slaughter of a ram or sheep.
Lashkar’s black-and-white striped flag was clearly displayed on banners flying just 200 yards outside the residential suburb of Korang Town. Emblazoned across the banners were the addresses and phone numbers of mosques affiliated with Lashkar’s Jama’at-ud-Da’wah proselytizing sister organization. The U.N. banned the Jama’at, too, after the Mumbai attacks, and Pakistan took similar action that same day, Dec. 11, 2008.
The banners advertised a timely service: animals for sacrifice at a price much lower than one would find in local livestock markets. Goats, Pakistan’s favorite source of meat, were available for 13,000 rupees – about $124 – about half the market price.
There was, however, a catch.
The animal’s purchaser would retain one-third of the meat, per Islamic custom, while Lashkar’s charitable organization, the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, or Humanitarian Welfare Foundation, would assume responsibility for distributing the remainder to victims of natural disasters in Pakistan. It also would retain the animal hides, presumably for sale to tanneries, netting a share of the estimated 13 billion-rupee ($124 million) leather trade tied to Eid al Adha.
The banners led to an adjacent suburb built for employees of the government’s Public Works Department, where a senior Jama’at-ud-Da’wah activist, Hafiz Mohammed Iqbal, oversaw several teams of butchers outside the Jamia Mohammedi mosque.