Over one year ago I wrote about the growing problem of militancy in Punjab. Based on details of the budget tabled in the Punjab Assembly on Monday, that problem is likely to only grow worse.
According to a report in The Times of India, Shehbaz Sharif’s budget includes millions for Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
Besides a grant-in-aid of over Rs 61 million for the JuD centre known as ‘Markaz-e-Taiba’, the provincial government has allocated Rs 350 million for setting up a ‘Knowledge Park’ at the centre and other development initiatives.
Details of the allocations were presented in budget documents tabled in the Punjab Assembly on Monday by the PML-N government led by chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Militant sympathisers will rush to parrot the lie that JuD is a simple ‘charity’ organisation, and note that the funds have been given for JuD’s schools, dispensaries and hospitals in Punjab. But even setting aside for a moment the laughable lie that Hafiz Saeed is another Edhi, let us ask a more important question about the issue of governance. Namely, why the Government of Punjab is unable to provide schools, dispensaries and hospitals itself but must give the tax payer’s funds to militant groups to it for them?
It is also not valid to say that these funds are only for ‘welfare services’ because of the economic property known as ‘fungibility‘. Fungibility means that something is interchangeable. By giving JuD funds to pay for their welfare services, the Government of Punjab frees up the other funds that the organisation raises to be used for less charitable purposes such as militant training camps and weapons.
If the Government of Punjab would stop funding JuD’s welfare services, they would have less funds to pay for militancy. Because JuD has to provide welfare services in order to justify its existence, forcing them to pay for their own welfare services would have the added benefit of maintaining those programmes while eliminating the group’s militant operations, which would be better for everyone.
Already the Government of Punjab has a bad history of funding militants. As was reported in 2011, Punjab had been giving payments to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terror kingpin Malik Ishaq. This sympathetic attitude towards militants by the Government of Punjab has served to embolden the terrorists in our midst. Reports in the international media expose Taliban ‘openly raising funds’ in Punjab. And Jamaat-ud-Dawa is no different.
Hafiz Saeed’s statement on Monday that attacks inside Pakistan do not qualify as jihad actually concluded with a call for greater militancy: “Our strength is in unity and not in infighting among us. However, Muslims will have to continue jihad to maintain their freedom.” Obviously this is no surprise to anyone who is paying attention since the JuD Amir has openly raised funds for militancy under our very noses for years. This year we voted for change. Let’s begin by ending our funding for militants.