Putting more pressure on Pakistan, the United States on Friday called for 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed to be held accountable for his involvement in the planning of "numerous acts of terrorism, including 2008 Mumbai attacks". On Wednesday, an anti-terrorism court in Lahore sentenced the chief of the banned Jamaat-ud -Dawa (JuD), Hafiz Saeed to five-and-a-half years in prison each in two terror financing cases. This came over 11 years after the 2008 attacks.
Commenting on Saeed's conviction in terror financing cases in a Pakistani court, a US State Department spokesperson told ANI, "We continue to call for Hafiz Saeed to be held accountable for his involvement in the planning of numerous acts of terrorism, including 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 innocent people, including 6 Americans."
The American spokesperson said Hafiz Saeed's conviction on terror financing is a step towards curtailing the operation of a terrorist group that threatens peace and stability in South Asia. "We urge Pakistan to continue to take appropriate legal action against individuals who commit acts of terrorism, raise funds for, or advocate for terrorism," the official added.
On Wednesday, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells welcomed the conviction of Hafiz Saeed. According to her, the conviction is an important step towards holding the Lashkar-a-Taiba (LeT) accountable. She also noted that Pakistan must not allow non-state actors to operate within its territory.
Today’s conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate 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.— State_SCA (@State_SCA) February 12, 2020
Saeed's conviction comes days ahead of the Plenary and Working Group meetings of the FATF — a Paris-based global watchdog which, last year, had warned Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and three of his associates — Hafiz Abdul Salam bin Mohammad, Mohammad Ashraf and Professor Zafar Iqbal - had been indicted by the ATC — on terror financing charges on December 11 last year in a case filed by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD).
(With ANI inputs)