While several Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, are banning the activities of Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan has passed a resolution supporting Tablighi Jamaat which is widely seen as a retaliatory move against Saudi Arabia, despite decade-old relations between Riyadh and Islamabad.
Pakistani spy agency Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), as well as several jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda, Islamic State and the Taliban, have been using Tablighi Jamaat as the most convenient vessel for spreading religious extremism and Islamist jihad, despite the fact, Pakistan's own security analysts have written in detail about how former missionaries of Tablighi Jamaat have formed some of the most dreaded terror outfits like the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM). Pakistan's own investigators have said that former members of the Tablighi Jamaat formed the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.
Meanwhile, according to counterterrorism experts, Tablighi Jamaat is being used by notorious Jamaat-e-Islami for spreading religious extremism and anti-India sentiment. There also are indications of deeper ties between Tablighis, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamad.
Recently, Saudi Arabia has banned the activities of Tablighi Jamaat and alerted every mosque and religious centers in the country to report any activities of Tablighis. The Saudi authorities termed Tablighi Jamaat a gate to terrorism while prohibiting all its activities on Saudi soil. In several countries around the world, Tablighi Jamaat is considered the antechamber of terrorism and spreads religious hatred.
While several Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, are banning the activities of Tablighi Jamaat, Pakistan has passed a resolution supporting TJ. According to media reports, the Punjab assembly in Pakistan, where Prime Minister Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) is in the majority, unanimously adopted a resolution calling the Tablighi Jamaat a force for good and a non-political peaceful organization. The gesture of solidarity with the Tablighi Jamaat is widely seen as a retaliatory move against Saudi Arabia, despite decade-old relations between Riyadh and Islamabad.
The statement said: "Tablighi Jamaat is a global organization. It has nothing to do with terrorism. History has shown that these people have never been involved in such activities. They are earning goodwill for Pakistan with the preaching of Islam all over the world."
However, in January 2016, the Punjab assembly banned Tablighi Jamaat from universities. It had banned it from mosques surrounding all universities since lawmakers thought the Tablighi Jamaat was sympathetic towards terror outfits and would mislead young students. However, five years later, the Punjab assembly praises the Tablighi Jamaat, lauding it for bringing goodwill to Pakistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan maintains high intimacy with many radical Islamic terrorist groups, and Islamabad recently struck a failed ceasefire agreement with the Tehreek-e-Taliban, one of the Pakistani chapters of Taliban jihadists.
In 2010, a massacre had unfolded at a mosque in Lahore in which 94 Ahmadiyya Muslims were killed after being taken hostage. The minister of law in the Punjab province went on record to state that members of the Tablighi Jamaat facilitated the attack.
Despite Saudi's ban on the activities of Tablighi Jamaat, the notorious group has been expanding activities in Bangladesh, India and other South Asian nations by forming alliances with radical Islamic militancy groups such as Hizbul Mujahidin, Ansar Al Islam, Hefazat-e-Islam etcetera. In India, Tablighi Jamaat runs religious conversion projects with funding from Qatar and a few other Muslim nations. In Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB), Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are using Tablighi Jamaat as the most convenient platform for spreading religious extremism, anti-Hindu, anti-India sentiment and jihadism. These Islamist political forces are eyeing the 2023 general elections in Bangladesh and want Tablighi Jamaat activities to enhance vote banks.
Meanwhile, Vishva Hindu Parishad recently demanded the government to ban the Tablighi Jamaat in India and order a "crackdown" on Darul Uloom Deoband, Popular Front of India, as they provide "direct or indirect nourishment" to Jamaat.
In a statement, VHP demanded that the Nizamuddin Markaz building in Delhi and the bank accounts associated with it should be sealed, and its "economic sources and resources" should be found out and plugged. "Not only Bharat (India) but the whole world is in serious trouble today due to the transgressions of the Tablighi Jamaat and its Nizamuddin Markaz," it said.
"VHP demands a complete ban on Tablighis, Tablighi Jamaat and Ijtema (religious congregation) in India be imposed," the VHP said. It said Tablighi Jamaat is a manufacturing hub of "radical Islamic Jihadism" and a host and patron of global terrorism.
(Short bio of the author: Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Follow him on Twitter @salah_shoaib)