ISLAMABAD - Ahead of the planned October 31 protest march of the opposition, the federal government on Thursday empowered all four provincial governments to ban Ansar-ul-Islam, a volunteer force of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), being a private militia.

The Ministry of Interior through a notification, available with The Nation, empowered all provinces to take appropriate actions including abolishment and banning of Ansar-ul-Islam. The federal cabinet had given this approval.

The notification says, “the Federal Government having reasons to believe that Ansar-ul-Islam (private militia/Razakar Force of Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam Fazl-ur-Rehman Group (JUI-F) is capable of functioning, as a military organization in violation of the Prohibition contained in Article 256 of the Constitution.”

The entity is a volunteer force of JUI-F

“Now, therefore in pursuance of approval of the Federal Government in terms of Article 146 (1) of the Constitution and after obtaining the content from Provincial Governments.... the federal Government through Ministry of Interior entrusts the Provincial Governments the power to take appropriate actions under  Section 2 of the Private Military Organizations (Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1974 against Ansar-ul-Islam which shall, inter-alia, include the power to abolish/ ban the said organization and take further steps against them on grounds for the purposes of effectually completing  the action.,” reads the order.

Earlier this month, the ministry had forwarded a summary to the federal cabinet which said: “Various source reports shared by our intelligence agencies and provincial governments with the Ministry of Interior has revealed that JUI-F has established a militant wing, a private militia / Razakar force named ‘Ansar-ul-Islam’ to provide security to marchers for the Azadi March scheduled for 27th October 2019 and proposed sit-in in Islamabad from 31 October 2019.”

Some days back, a video was uploaded on the social media showing the force, wearing khaki shalwar kameez and carrying black and white coloured batons, making rehearsal and march pasts during a workers convention, held in Peshawar, and pledging allegiance to the JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

Monitoring Desk adds: According to TV channels, in a step to avoid any untoward incident and maintain law and order in the federal capital during the possible sit-in of the opposition parties, the government on Thursday placed a ban on the entry of Ansar-ul-Islam’s activists in Islamabad.

The federal government under Article-256 barred the activists of Ansar-ul-Islam from entering Islamabad.

Earlier on October 9, the police force personnel had commenced preparations for upcoming protest and sit-in of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) in the federal capital Islamabad.

The personnel of the Anti-Riot Unit (ARU) of the Islamabad police department had participated in training sessions held in two shifts at Police Line headquarters. Special sessions were organised on a daily basis to train police officers for handling crowd to void any uncertain situation.