ISLAMABAD: Aiming to weaken the next week's mega protest, Pakistan has banned a little known organisation affiliated with Fazl-ur Rehman-led JUI-F which has planned the sit-in against the Imran Khan government alleging poll rigging.
The Ministry of Interior on Thursday issued a notification banning Ansarul Islam, saying the outfit was "capable of functioning as a military organisation". The Azadi March in Islamabad on October 31 will be led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Fazl.
All major Opposition parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Peoples Party of former president Asif Ali Zardari have announced their support.
Fazl has demanded Khan's resignation, alleging that the election held in July, 2018 was rigged to help his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
According to the notification, "the federal government through the ministry of interior entrust the provincial governments the power to take appropriate actions under Section 2 of the Private Military Organisations (Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1974 against Ansarul Islam".
The group came to prominence after it recently held military-style parades and offered salute to Rehman on the pattern of guard of honour given to the head of state.
The exact number of followers of the group is not known but they must be in tens of thousands, according to government sources. The members often carry large sticks (laathis or baton) and provide security to the meetings of the JUI-F. There is no record of involvement of the group in any terrorist activity.