The Punjab apex committee has decided to completely prohibit the collection of zakat and fitrana, by banned outfits. With a strong emphasis on monitoring and controlling their activities, an indiscriminate crackdown will be carried out against terrorists and facilitators of extremists as well as those providing them financial assistance. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has already imposed a ban on the collection of zakat by any organisations that might be advertising for donations. The Rangers in Karachi have also amped up their drive against any suspicious activities in the month of Ramazan, a time that sees a sharp rise in donations.

It is said that the citizens of our country annually contribute around Rs 80 billion as zakat and fitrana during the holy month. Such a large amount of money should not be blindly given away in the spirit of blessings. Many terrorist outfits have been said to use clandestine methods to raise funds to finance their activities. Zakat is one of these methods. Hides and skins collected on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha, as well as donations solicited from philanthropist elements on the pretext of building mosques etc., have become a way for them to sustain activities which might not be in the interest of the security of the people of Pakistan.

Though the NAP goal of registration and regulation of all the religious seminaries has not been implemented, this is one step that can curb the spread of radical ideology though madrassas and religious outfits. The local and global network of terrorist funding is complex and its intricacies are unknown. In all cases of political crises and terrorism, following the trail of money should be the first thing under investigation. Pakistan has a booming informal economy, and within it a vibrant black economy that has let the smuggling or arms, drugs and people become a lucrative business. The least that the Government can do is to encourage people to stop contributing to it from their own pocket.

Zakat is a pillar of Islam, and a beautiful gesture of communal unity and generosity. There are many legitimate charities that are transparent about what they do and how they provide for the needy. The citizens of Pakistan have to make sure that they are donating these charities. The security and integrity of the country takes precedence over all other considerations.