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  India   All India  18 Jul 2019  Saeed held in Pak on eve of Imran’s meet with Trump

Saeed held in Pak on eve of Imran’s meet with Trump

AGE CORRESPONDENT WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Published : Jul 18, 2019, 1:41 am IST
Updated : Jul 18, 2019, 1:41 am IST

Saeed’s arrest is also being seen in the context of the pressure on Pakistan over its commitment to FATF, whose next deadline is in October.

Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed (Photo: File)
 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed (Photo: File)

New Delhi/Islamabad: Under intense pressure to avoid Pakistan’s blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — the global inter-governmental body to combat terror financing — and ahead of Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s forthcoming visit to the United States, the Pakistan Punjab police on Wednesday arrested Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed on charges of terror financing. The arrest was made by the counter-terrorism department (CTD) of Pakistan’s Punjab province. Saeed is the founder of terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and now heads terror group Jamaat-ud-Dawa as well.

Saeed, who has several cases pending against him, was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to get pre-arrest bail in terror financing cases registered against him there when he was arrested, a CTD official told PTI in Islamabad. “The JuD chief was going to Gujranwala from Lahore on Wednesday morning when a CTD team intercepted him near Gujranwala city (some 80 km from Lahore) and arrested him on terror financing charges,” the official was quoted as saying.

 

Soon after the arrest, Saeed was presented before an anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala that granted his judicial remand. He was subsequently shifted to Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat jail.

India is believed to be viewing these developments with caution in view of Islamabad’s previous track record, where it has backtracked on action against terrorists. Just recently, New Delhi had accused Pakistan of attempting to “hoodwink” the international community by trying to show action against terror groups and said one should not be “fooled by these cosmetic steps”. The comment was made by New Delhi earlier this month after reports that Pakistan claimed it had “booked” Saeed and 12 of his close aides for “terrorism financing” in 23 cases. The

 

MEA had said “Pakistan’s sincerity to take action against terror groups will be judged on the basis of their ability to demonstrate verifiable, credible and irreversible action”.

A few weeks ago, Pakistan had escaped blacklisting at the FATF meeting in Orlando in the US, but FATF is all set to examine Islamabad’s track record once again in October this year. The FATF had earlier put Pakistan  on its “Grey List” (in which it is currently) for monitoring by FATF’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG). The “Grey List” comprises nations who are seen to have failed to fulfil their obligations to combat terror financing.

 

The Pakistani CTD had on July 3 registered 23 FIRs against 13 top leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, including Saeed, on charges of “terror financing” in different cities of Punjab province.

On Monday, Saeed and his three aides were granted pre-arrest bail by an anti-terrorism court in Lahore, which stopped the police from arresting them till August 3 in a land grabbing case and setting up a Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) seminary over there.

The US treasury department had designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a $10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.

Under pressure from the international community, the Pakistani authorities have launched investigations on LeT, JuD and its charity wing, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), regarding their holding and use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing.

 

Saeed’s arrest comes just ahead of Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s maiden visit to the US, during which he will hold talks with President Donald Trump at the White House on July 22. Mr Trump has repeatedly asked Pakistan to abide by its UN Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds.

Saeed’s arrest is also being seen in the context of the pressure on Pakistan over its commitment to FATF, whose next deadline is in October.

Tags: imran khan, hafiz saeed, donald trump