ISLAMABAD – The federal government has decided to revise the list of proscribed organisations, giving an indication to ban Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), a Sunni Deobandi religious group which previously operated by the name of Sipaha-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP).

It is unclear if the move is just an election stunt of the PPP-led federal government or a genuine effort to crackdown against sectarian and other militant organisations. According to a recently published media report, Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) is in consultations with ASWJ to make seat adjustments in Punjab for the upcoming general elections.

The interior ministry has also sought details from the PML-N led Punjab government about the hideouts of Lashker-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a banned militant wing of SSP, besides seeking its recommendations to put on the exit control list (ECL) the name of Malik Ishaq, who was LeJ operations chief and now is an ASWL officer bearer.

The ministry has in fact decided to seek complete details from all the four provinces about all such proscribed organisations as are operating with new names or those who have been recently found and are involved in sectarian violence or other terrorist activities. It has also decided to seek proposals from the provinces to proscribe such organisations.

Presently, there is a list of more than 30 organisations with the ministry that were banned by the incumbent government or earlier by the Musharraf regime. The ministry took these decisions at a high-powered meeting chaired by Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Thursday to review the present security threats facing the country.

A senior officer of the interior ministry told on the condition of anonymity that they had decided to get proposals from the provinces about the details of such organisations and final decision would be taken on the basis of these provincial recommendations. He said nothing could be said about the fate of ASWJ at this stage.

The meeting discussed in detail the matters related to the proscribed organisations and activities of the banned organisations operating under different new names. The ministry has directed the provinces to ensure that the members of the banned organisations must be prevented from operating under new banners.

The chair decided that interior secretary would seek details from the provinces about all the organisations working with new names after facing ban or those which are involved in terrorist activities or abetting the extremists. The secretary would also seek the input of the provinces on whether these should be banned or not.

A press statement from the ministry said that the matter of banned Lashker-e Jhengvi was discussed at length in the meeting and the secretary had been directed to issue reminder for seeking the recommendations from Punjab government for putting the name of Malik Ishaq on ECL, besides identifying LeJ hideouts and taking swift action against the LeJ terrorists. Interior secretary was also directed to get the details of every case against Malik Ishaq.

The minister also advised the secretary to submit the proposals next week after consultation with the provincial governments, enabling the federal government to take appropriate decisions. Rehman Malik also asked the secretary to ensure that the orders of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) regarding ban on issuance of new arms licences were followed in letter and spirit. He further instructed him that revalidation of the arms licences should continue after necessary legal formalities and as per policy of arms licences already in vogue.