Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has amended an anti-terror law allowing authorities to act against members of outlawed groups that set up new outfits with different names, a move which may have ramifications for LeT whose founder Hafiz Saeed floated JuD after it was banned.
An ordinance promulgated yesterday by Zardari to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 stated that if "office bearers, activists or associates of a proscribed organisation form a new organisation under a different name, upon suspicion about their involvement in similar activities, the said organisation shall also be deemed to be a proscribed organisation."
The government may then "issue a formal notification" about the proscription of the new group formed by members of a banned organisation, it said.
Soon after the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) was banned in Pakistan in the wake of the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament, its founder Saeed floated the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), describing it as a charitable organisation. The UN Security Council declared the JuD a front for the LeT after last year's Mumbai terror attacks and imposed restrictions on Saeed.
The Pakistan government has said on several occasions that the JuD has been banned, though no formal written notification has been issued in this regard.
The JuD still runs an extensive network of offices and seminaries across Pakistan. Its members provided aid to people displaced by recent anti-Taliban operations while operating in the guise of an organisation called the 'Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation'.
Their activities were curtailed after the Western media carried reports about the Falah-e-Insaniyat.
Though Saeed was put under house arrest in December last year after the Mumbai attacks, he was freed on the orders of the Lahore High Court in June. Pakistani authorities recently restricted his movements again though no formal order has been issued to put him under house arrest or to detain him.
The ordinance issued by Zardari also stated that members of a banned group will not be issued a passport or allowed to travel abroad if they "are found continuing the activities of the proscribed organisation" or if they violate the Anti-Terrorism Act or any other law.
In case of such offences, banks and financial institutions will not be allowed to provide loans or financial support to members of banned groups and their arms licenses will be cancelled, the ordinance said.
The ordinance also extended the period for which an accused or suspected terrorist can be kept in detention without being charged from 15 to 90 days.
"Any person who has been concerned in any offence under this Act or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists of his having been so concerned, the government may issue order of his preventive detention for a period not exceeding 90 days, and which shall not be challenged in any court...," the ordinance stated.
The amendment also envisages stricter checks on the running of illegal FM channels by militants.
Under the new amendments, an act of intimidation or terrorising the public, social sectors and business community and attacking civilians, government officials, installations, security forces or law enforcement agencies can now be tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The ordinance also stated that no court, including a High Court or the Supreme Court, can grant bail to a person accused of an offence that is punishable with death or imprisonment for life or jail term exceeding 10 years under the Anti-Terrorism Act. PTI