An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Wednesday has finally indicted the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed on terror financing charges. The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police on July 17 registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of "terror financing" in different cities of Punjab province and arrested the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief. He is detained at the Kot Lakhpat jail.
The cases have been 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. Under pressure from the international community, the Pakistani authorities have launched investigations into matters of the LeT, JuD and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) for their holding and use of trusts to raise funds for terrorism financing.
Hafiz Saeed was not indicted by Lahore's anti-terrorism court for terror financing charges as the authorities strangely failed to produce the other co-accused at the high profile hearing on Saturday. Hafiz Saeed was brought to the Court from Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail with tight security. As per reports, journalists were barred from entering the court premises to cover the proceedings citing security concerns. The court official said judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta has directed the authorities to ensure that co-accused Iqbal attends the next hearing on December 11. In the last hearing on December 1, the judge had fixed December 7 as the date for the indictment of Hafiz Saeed and others after hearing the arguments of prosecution and defense lawyers.
New Delhi had accused Islamabad of letting the mastermind for the Mumbai terror attack "roam freely" and enjoy "Pakistan's hospitality." Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in New Delhi on Friday that India had shared all the evidence with Pakistan and it was Islamabad's responsibility "to take action" against the perpetrators of the attack.
FATF has expressed its displeasure over Pakistan's inaction in fighting the terror outfits extending its grey list status with warnings of further action if the country fails to comply with the action plan suggested. The new deadline for Pakistan is February 2020 before which it has to act on the recommendations of the FATF, failure to which might get it blacklisted. Terrorist Hafiz Saeed had been operating in Pakistan, despite being designated as a global terrorist and the country facing the heat of the global community and FATF. In a sham crackdown on terror, the LeT chief as declared guilty of terror financing by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in a Pakistani court on August 7.
While the LeT chief Hafiz Saeed is now indicted in a Pakistani Court, presumably to avoid the heat by FATF, it is not the first time that it has happened. Here's an account of the times Hafiz Saeed was arrested:
(With PTI inputs)