LAHORE - An information gathering operation to ascertain the possible links of some religious seminaries with militants and tag these institutions as grey and white, has been launched focusing on the Punjab and other parts of the country, The Nation has learnt.
Sources in the security establishment privy to the developments concerning the operation told this correspondent on Friday that it was the first aggressive and comprehensive exercise to identify the grey seminaries with possible linkages with the militants. At the same time a list of entire white seminaries involved only in imparting religious education to the students is being prepared.
They said the Punjab has been put on security code ‘very sensitive’ after the launch of the operation, ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ to eradicate terrorism from North Waziristan. While the militants’ possible sleeper cells in the Punjab are believed to be taking cover in some religious seminaries, which provide support to the militant activities.
Against the backdrop of such developments, it has become very vital to tag the seminaries as grey and white after an aggressive intelligence operation.
The security services sources revealed the operation has special focus on Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur and Layyah in South Punjab, Jhang, Faisalabad, Sargodha and Rawalpindi in North Punjab and Lahore, Sialkot, Gujranwala and Kasur in Central Punjab.
They added this exercise would also cover the data collection of the foreign students studying in the seminaries.
They declined to share information concerning the action against the seminaries coming under the tag of grey after this exercise.
They added the security services were monitoring, in the first phase, the seminaries which had already under watch for suspected links with militants in the past for tagging while the second phase would take up the new list.
The sources added they tapped potential information in the recent past about the involvement of some seminaries of North Punjab and South Punjab for sponsoring support to the operatives of the outlawed TTP.
However, a few individuals of the seminaries having connections with the TTP members had been picked up by the security services, put tabs on them and got valuable information concerning some deadly sleeper cells, but suggest no action against the seminaries as the administration of the organisations claimed that they had no knowledge about the actions of a few individuals. These institutions, however, remained under watch list.
They refused to share the names or even the cities of North and South Punjab seminaries whose individuals had links with TTP, for maintaining the cover of their informants.
It is worth mentioning that Pak Army had already been deployed in Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan to deal with any extraordinary incident against the backdrop of the operation, Zarb-e-Azb.
A former boss of a leading security service, who headed the Punjab, sharing his experiences of the recent past, said it was unfortunate that some powerful individuals from the Muslim countries with which Pakistan enjoyed close and brotherly relations were directly or indirectly backing the militant networks in Fata, Punjab and other regions in the country.
He, however, said efforts had been made at government level to seek the cooperation of brotherly Muslim countries for cutting the financial and other support lines of the seminaries supporting militant activities.
He added the brotherly Muslim states responded with direct action as a result of which many support lines of the welfare organisations and seminaries had been severed, but more efforts were needed in this direction.