Shah visits a flood relief camp at Sukkur in the Sindh province; Image courtesy of Dawn.com
There are reports that Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), on Wednesday visited a flood relief camp in Pakistan's Sindh province run by an outlawed charity linked to Pakistani jihadist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to Pakistani and Indian media reports.
The Urdu-language Pakistani newspaper Roznama Express reported that Shah inspected a relief camp established by the outlawed Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), the charity arm of terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa were banned by the UN Security Council following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The Urdu-language daily said that Shah, an American of Indian origin, visited the relief camp of Jamaatud-Dawa, which is working as Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) after changing its name due to the ban. The USAID chief appreciated the efforts of the organization in helping the flood victims, the report added.
The following are media reports about the visit:
Rajiv Shah Purportedly Said: "The JuD [Jamaatud Dawa] is Actively Taking Part in Relief Operations; The Work Being Done by the Group is Appreciable"
The Indian website rediff.com quoted Yahya Mujahid, who is a spokesman of Jamaatud Dawa, as confirming that Shah visited the relief camp run by Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation at Sukkur in Sindh province. "He handed over two trucks of relief materials for distribution among the flood victims," Mujahid added.
Jamaatud Dawa, which is headed by Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, issued a statement, saying that Shah appreciated its relief work. According to the Indian website sify.com, the statement quoted the USAID chief as saying: "The JuD is actively taking part in relief operations. The work being done by the group is appreciable."
According to the rediff.com report, senior Jamaatud Dawa official Hafiz Abdur Rauf, who is chairman of the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, said that the organization has been working with international relief agencies to provide aid to flood victims.
According to rediff.com, Rick Snelsire, a spokesman of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, denied that the relief camp visited by Shah was run by Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation. Snelsire said that camp was run by "Save the Children" but did not rule out the possibility that the FIF may have provided aid to the camp in the past.
Journalists, who visited the relief camp - located within a school - said that they had seen a banner with the words "RELIEF CAMP FALAH-E-INSANIAT FOUNDATION" hanging at its entrance, according to the rediff.com report.
Relief Worker at Sukkur Camp: "Alhamdulillah, All Funds are Coming from Jamaatud Dawa…"
Pakistani television networks raised questions during and after Shah's visit about the wisdom of visiting a terrorism-linked organization such as Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). The website of the FIF promptly posted videos from Pakistani television programs, discussing the controversy of FIF's association with Jamaatud Dawa. Among the videos posted are video clips from GEO News and ARY News television channels.
According to one of the videos, Mohsin Raza of ARY News reported (speaking in Urdu):
"Dr. Rajiv Shah visited different relief camps in Sukkur; among them, he visited the Falah-e-Insaniat camp where formally the Jamaatud Dawa's symbols were made on the banners of the Falah-e-Insaniat. People present there sought clarification that this is a Jamaatud Dawa camp… During the press conference today, Dr. Rajiv Shah… was asked this question, upon which he said that he is [participating] with the work that is being done on humanitarian basis in the flood-affected areas…" This video of ARY News posted on fif.org.pk can also be watched on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2uo3N7oQRs&feature=player_embedded#!
Another video clip posted on the FIF website is from the GEO News television channel. Speaking in the GEO News video, a worker at the FIF relief camp confirms that the relief is being provided by Jamaatud Dawa. In the video, the FIF worker tells the senior GEO News reporter Hamid Mir:
"Alhamdulillah, this work is being done from [on behalf of] Jamaatud Dawa… In Sukkur zone, our six camps are functioning. Under my control, this camp is the one; behind it is a primary school…; girls' college; [another]… school; we are thinking about working at Municipal High School… There are 1,100-1,150 [flood-affected] people… Every day we prepare food for 1,100 people… [The reporter asks] 'Who is giving you funds for this?' Alhamdulillah, all funds are coming from Jamaatud Dawa…"
This video of GEO News posted on fif.org.pk can also be watched on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAiKzzZ8Wrc&feature=player_embedded#!
Pakistani Daily Dawn: "[The] Visit by the U.S. Official is Being Described by the JuD [Jamaatud Dawa] as an Endorsement of Its Relief Efforts"
The liberal Pakistani newspaper Dawn commented on Shah's visit, observing: "As voices are being raised in different countries against extremist groups using flood assistance to lure recruits for militancy, the U.S. overseas aid chief created on Wednesday a sort of storm by visiting a Sukkur relief camp supposedly run by Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), the latest reincarnation of Jamaatud Dawa, the humanitarian arm of the banned terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)."
Confirming that Shah was in Sukkur "to witness relief efforts when he visited the FI camp," the Dawn report added: "The FIF started functioning openly last year by providing aid to people displaced by the military operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas]. It was formed after the UN imposed sanctions on the JuD [i.e. Jamaatud Daw] in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks on Nov. 26, 2008."
According to the report, Jamaatud Dawa's Yahya Mujahid, who has been widely known as leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba over the past few decades, confirmed that "the camp Mr. Shah visited was run by Falah-e-Insaniat..."
"[The] visit by the U.S. official is being described by the JuD as an endorsement of its relief efforts," the report said, noting that some people in Sukkur told Dawn via phone that a large banner reading "Relief Camp – Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation" hung over the entrance to the relief camp.
Indian Website: "The Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation... is Milking the Most Out of the Recent Floods in Pakistan and the Government's Slow-Paced Work"
Rediff.com, the Indian news website, carried another report, titled "JuD's Charity Body Wins Sympathy with Flood-Relief Work." Following are excerpts from the report:
"The Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation... is milking the most out of the recent floods in Pakistan and the government's slow-paced work.
"The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [provincial] government had recently announced that banned militant organizations would not be allowed to take advantage of the catastrophic situation in the province; however the FIF has been earning great sympathy from the public with its charity works.
"Workers of the organization reached flood-ravaged areas before the government machinery, rescued marooned people to camps, and provided them with clothes, food, and medicines.
"It is known that the organization is run by JuD chief Hafiz Saeed. However, not surprisingly, the organization denies its link with Saeed and the JuD.
"Atiq Chauhan, the FIF spokesperson for KPK [Khyber Pakhtunkhwa], said: 'Some people call us as an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, but the FIF is purely a welfare organization that works to help protect the needy people of the country. Such allegations could not hinder our relief work and it will continue.'
"[Chauhan added:] 'The FIF is active since the floods hit KPK. We sent rescue teams with boats and skilled swimmers and rescued flood victims. After taking them to safer places we erected tents for the affected people, and now we are providing them with food, medicine, clothes and shelter.'
"The organization has been working in Malakand, Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, and Hazara areas of the KPK. Though the government may resist help fearing people's support for terrorist groups, the JuD-backed FIF has already gained a lot of popularity…"
Images of Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation Workers Engaged in Relief Work in Sindh
The Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation is actively offering relief to flood-affected people in across, and documenting it. In the images below, its workers are offering aid to flood victims in different areas of Sukkur in the Sindh province.
 Roznama Express (Pakistan), August 26, 2010.
 Dawn (Pakistan), August 26, 2010.