Sunday, Nov 16, 2003
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
The decision was taken today at a joint meeting presided over by the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, and the Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, and attended by the four provincial Chief Ministers at Rawalpindi.
Three days ago, the United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Nancy J. Powell, had said that Washington was concerned over the re-establishment of the banned militant outfits under new names and was working with Islamabad to check their activities.
India has been maintaining since the much-publicised speech of Gen. Musharraf on January 11, 2001 in which he outlined the steps contemplated by his Government to crack down on militancy that Islamabad has not been serious in moving against terrorist outfits. However, Pakistan has contested the argument.
An estimated 2,000 activists of the banned outfits were then taken into custody from different parts of Pakistan after Gen. Musharraf's speech and these included the Jaish chief, Masood Azar, and the Lashkar chief, Hafeez Saeed. However, the Government had to release them a few months later as it had not filed formal chargesheets against them.
The latest decision assumes significance, as Pakistan is to host the SAARC Summit in the first week of January and has been urging New Delhi to come to the negotiating table for a formal dialogue to resolve all differences between the two countries.
The outlawed organisations after the nomenclature changes are the Shia Tehreek-i-Islami Pakistan, the Sunni Millat-e-Islami (sectarian militant outfits) and the Khudam-ul Islam (Jaish). Khudam-ul-Islam has been accused of sending militants across the Line of Control into Kashmir.
Another militant group, the Jama-ul-Dawa, which came into being as a substitute for the parent outfit of the then Lashkar, has been placed on a "watch list" under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
At today's meeting, Gen. Musharraf and Mr. Jamali were quoted as telling the Chief Ministers and officials to evolve a comprehensive strategy to address issues pertaining to improvement and maintenance of law and order.
An official statement said the meeting took stock of the law and order situation to streamline short, medium and long-term measures to improve the overall security environment.
Gen. Musharraf told the meeting that although a lot of effort was being made to put Pakistan on the path of progress, it was imperative that the outside world perceived a visible improvement in environment so that the country could realise its potential as a regional economic hub.
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