Two days after being convicted, Wanted Global terrorist Hafiz Muhammad Saeed will most likely be released soon after the verdict of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as per sources who also stated that the intentional loopholes in the verdict allow his release.
The FATF will hold a meeting in Paris on February 16 to decide whether or not Pakistan should be blacklisted for failing to act against terror.
Hafiz Saeed's lawyer and his associate who were convicted by an anti-terrorism court on Wednesday, have said that they will appeal the judgement in the Lahore High Court. Hafiz Saeed's counsel has alleged that his client was convicted only due to the "pressure" of FATF, ahead of its upcoming meeting, the Dawn newspaper reported.
On the other hand, Pakistan's leading daily said, besides his involvement in foreign theatres, and the disgrace he brought to Pakistan, the LeT/JuD terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed have also caused instability within the country.
In a big development on Wednesday, the 26/11 mastermind was convicted for five and a half years in two terror financing cases against him. Additionally, he was slapped with a fine of Rs15,000 in each case. He was convicted under ATA Section 11-F (2) and 11-N. This came even after the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Lahore accepted his plea to club all the pending cases against him and then announce the verdict.
The Counter-Terrorism Department of Pakistan had registered 23 FIRs against Hafiz Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province and arrested him on July 17. He is held at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore. However, he was first convicted against the 26/11 terror attack case.
His conviction comes amid the mounting international pressure on Islamabad and FATF mulling over black-listing Pakistan.
In June 2018, the Government of Pakistan had committed to working with the FATF to plug the loopholes. But a review by the intergovernmental organisation in October 2019 revealed that the Pakistan Government showed a "lack of progress" in addressing its terror financing risks.
The FATF also noted that Pakistan had mainly addressed only five of the 27 items on the action plan, in spite of varying levels of progress made on the rest. The FATF had then set a deadline for Pakistan to fix its the legal framework in order to control money-laundering and the supply of funds to the terrorist outfits by February 2020.
The organization warned if the Imran Khan Government failed to plug the loopholes by then, it would take actions, which might include alerting financial institutions of other countries to be cautious while dealing with Pakistan.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) led LeT has maintained links with the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda, along with elements which evolved into the Punjabi Taliban, which are considered as reasons Hafiz Saeed was sent to prison.
The conviction of Hafiz Saeed raises another major point that while militant groups are banished in Pakistan, their leaders and forces continue to operate freely.
There have been reports that the Pakistan Army continues to supply funds logistics and training to these terrorist outfits and use them as agents against its rival countries, India and Afghanistan.
Many of these outfits trade illegal drugs trade and earn handsome revenue to sustain their organisations.
(With inputs from ANI)