Ban fuels more Pak funds for J&K ''jehad''
4 August 2001
New Delhi: Kashmir continues to be an obsession for Pakistani rulers and people. If a report in a Pakistani weekly is to be believed, there has been considerable increase in donations for the so-called Kashmiri cause in Pakistan. ''There has been a considerable increase in donations for Kashmir since the minister called for a ban on placing our donation boxes in public places,'' Abu Saad, chief of North West Frontier Province chapter of Lashkar-i-Toiba, has been quoted as saying in the recent edition of the Friday Times. This has been despite the tough measures announced by the Federal Interior Minister on February 12, this year, against ''extremism in the name of Islam and jehad. The Minister had reportedly said that the ban on fund collection was part of the package Islamabad intended to introduce to check the ''rapid growth of fundamentalist groups'' in the country. ''We believe there had been a 40 to 50 per cent increase in public donations since the Interior Minister banned donations,'' Amjad Ali, office secretary of the Hizbul Mujahideen in Peshawar, has been quoted as saying. The proposed ban invited pointed criticism from mujahideen groups, backed by religious parties, bringing the Interior Ministry under pressure to shelve the idea and let the jehadi organisations receive donations with the help of public support. Since the official ban by the Interior Ministry on collecting donations for ''jehad'' in Kashmir, the collections have actually increased, claim various militant outfits. Three months ago, Federal Interior Minister Lt-Gen (retd) Moinuddin Haider gave verbal orders ordering jehadi organisations to stop collecting funds in public or placing collection boxes in public for this purpose. The weekly carried out a survey to confirm these claims. ''A pharmacist near the Khyber Teaching Hospital in Peshawar confirmed that donations from the public have seen an upswing. I have observed that more and more people are donating with comments ''we need to support the jehad financially, if not physically.'' The box fills out within a week or two,'' he said.