‘Pak decision on Hafiz Saeed right before FATF meet’: Govt questions efficacy

A day after a Pakistan court sentenced Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed in two terror financing cases, people familiar with the development in the government said that the efficacy of the decision remains to be seen.

“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,” people familiar with the development said.

“The decision has been made on the eve of FATF Plenary meeting, which has to be noted. Hence, the efficacy of this decision remains to be seen,” they added.

Saeed was given a five-and-a-half year prison term in terror financing cases – the first time the US-designated terrorist has been held guilty by the Pakistani judiciary.

Anti-terrorism court judge Arshad Hussain Bhatta ruled that the five-and-a-half year prison terms given to Saeed in both cases would run concurrently and also fined him Rs 15,000 in the two cases.

Singnificantly, the verdict came four days before the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) plenary meeting in Paris to assess action taken by Pakistan to counter terror financing and money laundering. Pakistan has been keen to get off the so-called grey list of the organisation set up to combat terror financing and money laundering.

“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,” people familiar with the development further said.

Saeed, who was detained last July, can appeal against the ruling in higher courts.

Saeed, 69, for whom the US has offered a bounty of $10 million, has been detained without charge several times since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but has never been formally charged or prosecuted in Pakistani courts. US and Indian officials have accused him of a key role in masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people.

Saeed recorded his statement in court and pleaded “not guilty”.

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