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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Gulf countries fund militancy in Pakistan, Wikileaks reveals

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Islamabad: Wikileaks revealed that the donors in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are sending an estimated $100 million annually to Madarsas in Southern Punjab that back militancy, diplomatic cable published on Sunday.

The donations come from Islamic charities and missionary organizations and are made “ostensibly with the direct support” of the Saudi and Emirate governments, said the cable, which was written in November 2008.

U.S. lawmakers and senior American officials have said before that Saudi donors and charities were still directing financial support to Islamic extremists in the region, including in Afghanistan. But the cable was notable because it indicated the financial support was now reaching a once moderate area of southern Pakistan that observers have been warning is becoming more radical.

The religious schools in southern Punjab province single out poor boys for indoctrination and send some of them off to military training to fight against the Pakistani government and the West, said.

“Local economic conditions coupled with foreign financing appear to be transforming a traditionally moderate area of the country into a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist organizations,” said the cable, which was sent by Bryan Hunt, the principal officer at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore at the time.

“The provincial and federal governments, while fully aware of the problem, appear to fear direct confrontation with these extremist groups,” the U.S. cable said.

The U.S. Consulate in Lahore “believes that this growing recruitment network poses a direct threat to (U.S. government) counterterrorism and counter-extremism efforts in Pakistan,” the cable said. Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nugali refused to respond saying: “Saudi Arabia issued a statement from day one that we are not going to comment on any WikiLeaks reports because Saudi Arabia is not responsible for these reports and we are not sure about their authenticity.”

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