30/05/2017 4:53 PM IST | Updated 30/05/2017 4:58 PM IST

Banned Outfits From Pakistan Are Thriving On Facebook: Report

41 of Pakistan’s 64 banned outfits are hiding in plain sight.

Faisal Mahmood / Reuters
A woman holds a candle and a Pakistani flag as she takes part in a protest against terrorism in Islamabad March 17, 2015. Suicide bombings outside two churches in Lahore killed 14 people and wounded nearly 80 others during services on Sunday in attacks claimed by a faction of the Pakistani Taliban. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Banned extremist organisations from across the border are thriving on Facebook, an investigation by Dawn has revealed. The Pakistani media organisation's month-long reporting has revealed that 41 of the country's 64 banned outfits are hiding in plain sight.

"Their network, both interconnected and public, is a mix of Sunni and Shia sectarian or terror outfits, global terror organisations operating in Pakistan, and separatists in Balochistan and Sindh," according to the report.

These organisations have hundreds of Facebook pages with 160,000 followers, and are being used to propagate their extremist ideology, recruit members, and spread updates. Many of these appear to operate out of Karachi and Quetta. The biggest following is for Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), which is a Sunni paramilitary group operating in Pakistan and Somalia. They violently target Shi'ite mosques, and demand that they should be legally declared non-Muslim.

The Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), which is a separatist political party that Sindhudesh should be separated from Pakistan, is close behind with a significant Facebook following. Another popular group is the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a violent extremist Deobandi Muslim organisation which was banned as a terrorist organisation in 2002.

Read the full Dawn investigation here.