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Agencies
February 14, 2020

India cautious, US welcomes Hafiz Saeed’s conviction

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A
Agencies
February 14, 2020

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday welcomed the conviction of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on charges of terror financing.

United States chief diplomat for South Asian affairs Alice Wells commended the steps taken by Pakistan to combat terror financing and pointed out that this was in line with what Prime Minister Imran Khan had said.

“The conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward — both towards holding LeT accountable for its crimes and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing,” Wells said in a statement after the verdict.

“And as Imran Khan has said, it is in the interest of Pakistan’s future that it does not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil,” she added. The ATC on Wednesday convicted Saeed anhis associate Malik Zafar Iqbal on terror charges.

Both the sentences would run concurrently and the convicts have been given benefit of Section 382-B of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This means that both convicts will have to undergo only five and a half years jail term and the time of their jail term will start from the date of arrest.

The conviction of Saeed also strengthens Islamabad’s case at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is set to meet this month to decide on Pakistan’s fate.

Pakistan was placed on the ‘grey list’ by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019 or face the risk of being placed on the blacklist along with Iran and North Korea.

However, in October 2019 meeting, the FATF board noted that Pakistan addressed only five out of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling terror funding and money laundering. It asked Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020.

A team led by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar defended the country’s compliance report during the joint group of FATF meeting held in Beijing last month.

The FATF was satisfied with the report that the country submitted to the international watchdog as part of review process.

A day after Pakistan sentenced Hafiz Saeed to 11 years of imprisonment, government sources said, “We have seen media reports that a court in Pakistan has sentenced UN-designated and internationally proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed in terror financing case. It is part of a long-pending international obligation of Pakistan to put an end to support for terrorism.”

India has also observed that the decision to hold Hafiz Saeed guilty of financing terror comes just days before a crucial meeting of global terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris. Pakistan is supposed to present its case at the meeting to escape being blacklisted.

Government sources also said, “The decision has been made on the eve of FATF Plenary meeting, which has to be noted. Hence the efficacy of this decision remains to be seen. It has to also be seen whether Pakistan would take action against other all terrorist entities and individuals operating from territories under its control and bring perpetrators of cross border terrorist attacks, including in Mumbai and Pathankot to justice expeditiously.”

Hafiz Saeed, who has been designated a global terrorist by the United Nations, is the head of banned terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa. US has placed a $10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed and he was arrested on July 17 in the terror financing case. Hafiz Saeed is now lodged at the high-security Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.