26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has been arrested in Pakistan
India has asked Pakistan to ensure all terrorist leaders and groups operating on its soil face justice, after reports said a court in the neighbouring country has sentenced 26/11 attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed to six years on terror charges.
“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,” government sources said.
“The decision (by Pakistan) has been made on the eve of the FATF plenary meeting, which has to be noted. Hence, the efficacy of this decision remains to be seen,” the sources said. The Financial Action Task Force or FATF is a global watchdog against terror funding that has told Pakistan to come clean or face action, such as putting on a black list that could severely restrict international financial aid and even lead to a downgrade by independent ratings agencies.
“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,” the sources said.
Hafiz Saeed was found guilty of “being part of a banned terrorist outfit” and for “having illegal property”, his lawyer Imran Gill told news agency AFP. Hafiz Saeed’s jailing comes as Pakistan faces potential blacklisting by the FATF. “There was nothing to the case really, this was just due to pressure from the FATF,” Mr Gill said.
He is wanted in India for planning the 2008 attack in Mumbai, when 10 terrorists killed 166 people and injured hundreds more. Mr Gill gave no details about Hafiz Saeed’s conviction apart from saying he would be kept in prison in Lahore, AFP reported.
Hafiz Saeed has been declared a global terrorist both by the United Nations and the US, which put a $10 million bounty on his head. He also heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front organisation for the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), responsible for the Mumbai attacks.
The US has hailed the sentence against him.
The conviction “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,” tweeted Alice Wells, the top US diplomat for South Asia.
Hafiz Saeed has spent years in and out of varying forms of detention in Pakistan, sometimes under house arrest, on various charges. For the most part he has been free to move at will around the country, enraging India which has repeatedly called for his prosecution.
His most recent arrest came in July last year. At the time, US President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been detained “after a 10-year search”. The US House Foreign Affairs Committee also noted then that Hafiz Saeed had been arrested and released eight times since 2001.
With inputs from AFP