No ban, only curbs on Hizb activities: Pak.
20 May 2003
B. Muralidhar Reddy
ISLAMABAD: Reiterating that Islamabad would not allow the Hizb-ul Mujahideen to carry on any 'illegal activities' on the soil of either Pakistan or the territory controlled by it, the Pakistan Interior Minister, Faisal Saleh Hayat, today clarified that there was no ban on the outfit. The Hizb was an organisation functioning in Kashmir under Indian control and so 'the ban on Pakistan-based militant outfits was not applicable' in its case, Mr. Hayat said and added that it did not figure on the list of seven militant outfits proscribed by Pakistan. At the same time, Mr. Hayat said Pakistan would treat the Hizb on a par with the banned militant outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e- Mohammad. 'The government would step in if the organisation indulges in any illegal activities. These include the opening of offices, holding of rallies and carrying of weapons.' Contacted by The Hindu on Monday for confirmation of reports whether Pakistan had placed curbs on the activities of the Hizb, Mr. Hayat had said: 'Yes, curbs have been imposed on the activities of all militant outfits. They cannot carry out any activities either from the soil of Pakistan or PoK.' Pressed if that meant a ban on the Hizb, Mr. Hayat said: 'Yes there is a ban.' However, today he clarified that he meant the ban on 'illegal' activities. Last week, Pakistan banned the entry of the proscribed chief of the banned Jaish, Maulana Masood Azhar, from entering PoK. On Sunday, the Hizb chief, Syed Salahuddin, told journalists in Rawalpindi that his organisation would continue the jehad (holy war) and said no pressure, international or from Pakistani authorities, was acceptable. The Hizb maintains that it has 'mobile' militant camps in Kashmir on the Indian side and does not conduct any military operations either in Pakistan or PoK. It appears that Mr. Hayat felt the need to clarify matters as the leading Pakistan English daily, Dawn, in a report, attributed to him of having said that Pakistan had banned the activities of the Hizb-ul Mujahideen, but there was no restriction on the movement of its leaders and activists in the country.