US welcomes JuD chief Hafiz Saeed’s conviction on terror financing charges

The United States on Thursday welcomed the conviction of outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed on charges of terror financing.

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United States chief diplomat for South Asian affairs Alice Wells commended the steps taken by Pakistan to combat terror financing and pointed out that this was in line with what Prime Minister Imran Khan had said.

“The 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,” Wells said in a statement after the verdict.

“And as Imran Khan has said, it is in the interest of Pakistan’s future that it not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil,” she added.

The ATC had on Wednesday convicted Saeed and his associate Malik Zafar Iqbal on terror charges.

Iqbal, a close aide of Saeed, was also sentenced to five and a half years each in both cases. He was the secretary of the Al-Anfaal Trust, also run by the JuD. The convicts were facing Sections 11-F(2) , 11-N, 11-H, 11-K of Anti-terrorism Act in both FIRs.

The court awarded six months jail to Saeed and Zafar under 11-F(2) ATA (being a member of a banned outfit and supporting and arranging meetings of a proscribed organisation) in FIR no 30/2019 registered by the CTD Lahore.

In the same FIR, the convicts have been awarded five-year jail term under Section 11-N ATA (money laundering, illegal fundraising and buying properties from raised funds).

In FIR No 32/2019 registered by the CTD Gujranwala, the JuD leadership was awarded five months jail term under Section 11-F2 ATA (member of a banned outfit, arranging activities of organisation and extending support). Five-year jail term was awarded in this FIR under 11-N-ATA. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 to both the convicts in each case.

Both the sentences would run concurrently and the convicts have been given benefit of Section 382-B of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This means that both convicts will have to undergo only five and a half years jail term and the time of their jail term will start from the date of arrest.

The conviction of Saeed also strengthensIslamabad’s case at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is set to meet this month to decide on Pakistan’s fate.

Pakistan was placed on the ‘grey list’ by the FATF in June 2018 and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019 or face the risk of being placed on the blacklist along with Iran and North Korea.

However, in October 2019 meeting, the FATF board noted that Pakistan addressed only five out of the 27 tasks given to it in controlling terror funding and money laundering. It asked Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2020.

A team led by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar defended the country’s compliance report during the joint group of FATF meeting held in Beijing last month.

The FATF was satisfied with the report that the country submitted to the international watchdog as part of review process.

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