Is Pakistan sincere in its crackdown against Hafiz Saeed? India will be watching
New Delhi/ Islamabad: Even as Pakistani authorities have booked Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and 12 other leaders of the charity, that is a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba, for terror financing, India would be watching the developments closely to see whether Islamabad is sincere in its action against terror this time.
Islamabad’s move comes in the wake of a stern warning from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — which asked Pakistan to act on terror financing or be downgraded to the black list — and also from the International Monetary Fund, which approved a $6 billion financial package for the cash-strapped country.
It also comes ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming visit to the US where he is to meet President Donald Trump.
The trial of the 2008 Mumbai terror bombings that killed 166 people has not moved forward in any tangible way. Saeed has been placed under house arrest in the past, let off after some days and then allowed to move around freely and spew venom against India.
India has time and again conveyed to Pakistan that dialogue cannot resume unless Islamabad shows sincerity in cracking down against terror groups operating from its soil.
Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – a US-designated terror outfit -, was placed under house arrest in September 2009, but was cleared of all charges a month later and allowed to move freely.
In January 2017, Saeed was placed under house arrest for disturbing peace and security, but was released in November the same year after the Lahore High Court concluded that there was “nothing tangible in the evidence presented against him”. India had registered strong protest against his being let off on both the occasions.
After his January 2017 arrest, his charity, JuD, rebranded itself as Tehreek Azadi Jammu and Kashmir (TAJK).
Following India’s repeated requests for Saeed’s extradition, the US State Department in 2012 announced a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
On Wednesday, the Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) registered 23 cases relating to terror financing and facilitation against Saeed. The CTD, which registered the cases in five cities of Punjab, declared that the JuD was financing terrorism from the massive funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust.
These non-profit organisations were banned in April after the CTD found them to have links with the JuD and its top leadership, accused of financing terrorism by building huge assets/properties from the collected funds in Pakistan, Pakistani media reported.
The 23 FIRs were registered at the CTD police stations of Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad and Sargodha on July 1 and 2.
Besides, Hafiz Saeed and his brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki, the other JuD leaders against whom cases have been registered are Malik Zafar Iqbal, Ameer Hamza, Mohammad Yahya Aziz, Mohammad Naeem, Mohsin Bilal, Abdul Raqeeb, Dr Ahmad Daud, Dr Muhammad Ayub, Abdullah Ubaid, Mohammad Ali and Abdul Ghaffar.
On July 1 and 2, the CTD registered 23 cases against the leadership of Jama’at-ud-Dawa (JuD), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF), which is another front for the JuD, for making assets from terrorism financing through trusts/NPOs.
Similarly, large scale investigations have been launched into matters of JuD, LeT and FIF regarding their holding and use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing. They made these assets from funds of terrorism financing and held and used these assets to raise more funds for further terrorism financing.
Earlier in February this year, Pakistan re-instated a ban on two charities linked to Saeed – the JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) – which had long been on a UN international terrorism blacklist.