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Tuesday 21 January 2020

FATF prelude: Act against Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan told

Alice Wells, head of the South and Central Asian Bureau of the US State Department, has otherwise welcomed the arrest of four top LeT/JuD operatives

Before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) decides to blacklist Pakistan or not, the US has said that Pakistan will have to stop terrorist groups from using its territory. America has further told Pakistan that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed and other top operatives of the group have to be legally punished.

Alice Wells, head of the South and Central Asian Bureau of the US State Department, welcomed the arrest of four top LeT aka Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) operatives in Pakistan. Pakistan’s law-and-order agencies had on Thursday arrested the “four top members” of the banned LeT/JuD on charges of funding terrorism. The terrorists have been identified as Professor Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Mohammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam.

On the FATF listing, Alice Wells tweeted, “We welcome news that Pakistan arrested 4 #LeT leaders. The victims of LeT’s vicious attacks deserve to see these individuals prosecuted now, along with LeT leader Hafiz Saeed,” adding in her next tweet, ”As @ImranKhanPTI has said, #Pakistan, for its own future, must prevent militant groups from operating on its soil. AGW”

Pakistan has had a long history of arresting and releasing terrorists operating from its soil. Wells’s remarks come at a time when the FATF is going to decide on the ‘grey list’ status of Pakistan. The FATF, which operates from Paris, put Pakistan on the grey list in June last year, and gave an action plan to be completed by Pakistan before October 2019, failing which it would be blacklisted along with Iran and North Korea.

A review of Pakistan’s actions against terrorism will decide whether it will remain on the grey list, it will be blacklisted or given a clean chit.

Wells had last month asked Pakistan to punish terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar and said that Pakistan’s relations with India would depend on how the former was taking action against those involved in cross-border terrorism.

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The review of Pakistan’s performance will take place on 12-15 October.

Tensions between India and Pakistan increased since the August decision of the Government of India to revoke the status of special state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan strongly opposed the decision of India. It expelled the Indian high commissioner in Islamabad in its immediate reaction to the Narendra Modi government’s move.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue since the repealing of the strongest provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution even as New Delhi insists that Article 370 is its internal matter. Islamabad has so far met with no success in global mobilisation against India. Even the Islamic countries have by and large cold-shouldered Imran Khan’s diplomatic offensive.

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The US Finance Ministry named Saeed a global terrorist and announced a reward of $ 1 million for anybody who gives credible information about his whereabouts. It is believed that Jamaat-ud-Dawa, led by Saeed, had carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. More than 160 people were killed in the attack that year on 26-28 November.

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