The government of Pakistan's Punjab province has allocated millions of rupees in its budget for the largest centre of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, which is a front for banned terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba.
Besides a grant-in-aid of over Rs 61 million for the JuD centre -- known as Markaz-e-Taiba -- the provincial government has allocated Rs 350 million for setting up a ‘Knowledge Park’ at the centre and other development initiatives.
Details of the allocations were presented in budget documents tabled in the Punjab Assembly on Monday by the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz government led by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
One document stated, "Grant-in-aid to chief administrator Muridkey Markaz (is) Rs 61.35 million."
The JuD's centre is located at Muridkay on the outskirts of Lahore.
In his budget speech in the assembly, Finance Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman announced that the provincial government "intends to establish a Knowledge Park in Muridkey".
He said the government had allocated Rs 350 million for the park and several other initiatives in Punjab.
Shortly after the United Nations Security Council designated the JuD -- a front for the LeT in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks -- the Punjab government took over the centre in Muridkey.
At that time too, Punjab was ruled by the PML-N. Since then, the government has allocated money in its annual budget for the administration of the centre in Muridkey.
In 2009-10, the government provided more than Rs 82 million for the administration of JuD facilities.
In fiscal 2010-11, Chief Minister Sharif, using his discretionary powers, allocated two separate grants for JuD facilities. The government granted Rs 79.77 million for six organisations at Markaz-e-Taiba and a special grant-in-aid of Rs 3 million for the JuD’s Al-Dawa School System in several districts of Punjab.
Officials have said in the past that the allocations were needed to continue "welfare services" provided by the JuD’s schools, dispensaries and hospitals across the province of 90 million.
In the past, the Punjab government had defended its decision of allocating money to the JuD by saying the grants had been awarded for the administrator of the Markaz-e-Toiba.
There is no formal ban on the JuD and its chief, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, lives freely in Lahore despite a 10-million dollar bounty offered for him by the United States.
Image: The Jamaat-ud-Dawah's school in Muridkey | Photograph: Reuters