India on Thursday gave a guarded response to the reports that a Pakistan court on Wednesday convicted Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief, Hafiz Saeed, in two terror-financing cases and has sentenced him to prison for five and a half years with a fine of Rs 15,000 in each case.
It asked its neighbor Pakistan to act on all terrorist leaders and groups operating there and ensure that they are arrested.
“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,” government sources said.
This comes as Pakistan continues to face pressure from the international community to curb terror activities on its soil.
A Lahore anti-terrorism court (ATC) has convicted Saeed under the Anti-Terrorism Act Section 11-F (2) – pertaining to membership, support and meetings relating to a proscribed organisation – and 11-N (punishment under Sections 11-H [fund raising] to 11-K [money laundering]).
“The decision has been made on the eve of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary meeting, which has to be noted. Hence, the efficacy of this decision remains to be seen,” news agency ANI quoted sources as saying.
“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,” they added.
Outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, a UN designated terrorist and founder of the LeT, was the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The US has also offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Pakistan had been reluctant to take any concrete action against Saeed. It has also faced strict scrutiny and serious warnings from FATF (Financial Action Task Force) for its lack of action to curb terror financing by pro-terror groups and individuals.
The anti-terror financing body had, in October last year, warned Pakistan of strong action if it fails to take measures on terror financing and money laundering by February 2020.
The US hailing the sentence against him said that the conviction “is an important step forward — both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing,” the top US diplomat for South Asia Alice Wells said in a tweet.
In December last, the anti-terrorism court in Pakistan had indicted Hafiz Saeed on terror financing charges.
In July last, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police had registered 23 FIRs against Hafiz Saeed and his 12 accomplices on charges of “terror financing” in different cities of Punjab province and arrested the JuD chief.
The cases were registered in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terror financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of Trusts/Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust and Muaz Bin Jabal Trust.
Later in October, In an attempt to show that it is working in accordance with the FATF directives to crack down on UN proscribed terror groups, the CTD arrested four aides of Saeed.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba or LeT, which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai terror attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
Earlier in February, following diplomatic pressure after the Pulwama terror attack, Pakistan had banned Saeed’s terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its front Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF).