Jihadi graffiti gone from walls, but there’s still a fire down below!
By Mohammed Rizwan
LAHORE: The city of Lahore, gradually but surely, has been changing its skin for the last several months as the jihadi slogans and donation appeal campaigns by the right-wing and jihadi parties littered on the walls and thoroughfares have disappeared, making way for corporate ads and city businesses advertisements.
But the government’s anti-jihadi campaign’s message took its time to reach Lahore.
The jihadi organizations claim that the campaigns may have been wiped off the walls of Lahore, but campaigns to collect funds and jihad campaigns continue underground. However, a senior city police official tasked with countering jihadi activities claims the government’s vigorous crackdown on these outfits has managed to rid Lahore of its ‘jihadi face’.
“Still I can’t say that we have a permanent solution at hand as these organizations keep resurfacing again and again. But the major operational outfits like Sipah-i-Sahaba, Sipah-e-Mohammad, Hizbul Mujajideen, Hizbut Tehrir and Lashkar-e-Taiba have been dismantled and dispersed. They are on the run and they can’t continue openly what they have been doing,” said the police officer.
However, the religious organization that sponsor donation camps and jihadi campaigns say that they are still doing what they were doing and have only changed strategy. “If someone thinks we have stopped, that’s wrong. We have not budged an inch from our point of view on jihad and Kashmir,” said Yahya Mujahid, spokesman for Jamaatul Da’waa, formerly known as Lashkar-e-Taiba, the banned jihadi outfit.
“All you can say is that we are keeping a low-profile on our activities as the government has cracked down on us, but we’ll never accept what is happening between India and Pakistan,” said Mujahid. “Lashkar-e-Taiba is being run by our brothers in Kashmir and they demonstrated with attacks on the Kashmir bus that policy has not changed,” added Mujahid.
“There is lot of support for Jamaatul Da’waa here in Pakistan and we are sure that the momentum in Kashmir will pick up,” said Mujahid. Jamaat-e-Islami’s city leader Ameerul Azeem echoed these views. “We have just changed our strategy from donation camps to door-to-door campaigns. We still do the wall chalking etc but the government’s crackdown makes us campaign door-to-door. We won’t change our point of view nor policy on Kashmir or jihad,” said Azeem.
Hafiz Riaz, a central leader of JUI (Fazl), another religious organization that has never been involved in Kashmir but led the resistance against Soviets and Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, said that his group has never been involved in graffiti nor donation campaigns for jihad in Kashmir. However, Riaz tried to sum up the issue: “Look, these campaign were run by government institutions and now they are being closed down by the government itself. So, what’s the big deal?”