Pakistani extremists raise cash from sacrifice day
Lahore: Militants in Pakistan should reap a
cash bonanza from selling skins of animals slaughtered on a
Muslim sacrifice day, with hundreds of thousands of dollars
expected to reach a group linked to the 2008 Mumbai attackers,
according to an ex-member of the group and leather industry
Volunteers for Jamaat-u-Dawa, an Islamist charity
suspected of having served as a front for the group behind the
Mumbai attacks, were collecting bloodied skins across the
country after this year's Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice.
Their work shows the deep roots it and other banned groups
have in Pakistan as well as the state's unwillingness or
inability to stop them.
Militants behind attacks in Pakistan and across its
borders in Afghanistan and India get funds from extortion,
drugs, kidnappings and donations from foreign sympathisers.
But some of the money comes by way of charities, including
those collecting hides to raise funds. In past years also,
they have sold hides to raise funds.
Wealthy Muslims sacrifice animals on Eid al-Adha and
distribute most of the meat to the poor. Over this year's
holiday, which fell last week, Pakistanis killed around 5
million sheep and goats and 1 million cows, according to the
country's tanners association.
The skins are of no use to those who kill the animals,
but are snapped up by tanneries.
At auctions in the coming days, a cow hide is expected to
sell for between USD 40 and USD 50, while sheep and goat skins
will fetch around USD 7 apiece.
Skins collected last week will account for around 45
per cent of the needs of Pakistan's leather industry this
year, the tannery association said. Factories make coats,
gloves and other goods for export, and the trade is the second
largest foreign exchange earner for the country.
Militant groups are not the only ones to benefit from
hide sales. The leading hide collector in Karachi, the
country's largest city, is its ruling party.
Another major beneficiary is a cancer hospital for the
poor run by Imran Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician. Sunni
Therik, a religious group that is opposed to militants, also
collects. Some people give their hides directly to the poor,
who sell them.
Extremist groups and their sympathisers are in a good
position to collect the skins. The typically run religious
seminaries that have thousands of children and youth who can
go door-to-door to collect them from people happy to have them
taken from their front porch.
"These are the people whom I trust and these are the
people who do the best work for charity," said Illahi Shaikh,
as he directed a team of butchers cutting up his two cows
outside Jamaat-u-Dawa's main mosque in the capital, Islamabad.
"So what if America calls them terrorists, I don't care,"