GP Insights # 94, 6 July 2019
On 3 July 2019, Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) announced to have filed 23 cases against Hafiz Saeed and his 12 aides for terrorism financing. He is the head of Lashkar-i-Taiba, the terrorist organisation which was the perpetrator of 2008 attack on Mumbai. LeT-linked charities such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), were also charged. One of the senior counter-terrorism officials anonymously stated: “all the assets of these organisations and individuals will be frozen and taken over by the state.”
The case was registered at three places, namely Lahore, Gujranwala, and Multan. The charges also include several trusts such as Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawat ul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, Al Hamd Trust and Al Madina Foundation Trust “for collection of funds for terrorism financing through assets/properties made and held in the names of trusts/non-profit organisations (NPO).”
What is the background?
LeT has been banned in Pakistan since 2002, and previously also Saeed has been detained in his home several times, without any success. These fresh cases filed against him seems to be a re-new effort towards curtailing terrorism financing which Pakistan has been blamed to have failed to restrict over a long period. According to the CTD, the case was filed due to the sanctions imposed by the UN on Saeed and his organisation. But UN sanction was not the only pressure points, both the US and India have been criticising Pakistan for its inaction for a long time. The US had declared prize money of US $10 million for the head of Hafiz Saeed.
Additionally, last year, Pakistan was designated on the “grey list” category by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The countries who are unable to contain over money-laundering and terrorism-financing are categorised under the "grey list". This international watchdog had given Pakistan 2019 as a deadline “to improve its efforts against terrorism-financing”. These pressures seem to have triggered Pakistani authorities to act against Saeed and his organisation.
What does it mean?
There could be two implications, one, Pakistan’s effort to appease its equation with India. To an extent, there was hope given the massive coverage of this news in Indian media even compare to Pakistani media itself. Unfortunately, the news failed to create a stir in the political clout in New Delhi. It was dismissed by Indian foreign ministry as a ‘cosmetic steps.’ As stated by Raveesh Kumar, Spokesman of Indian foreign minister, “Pakistan is trying to hoodwink the international community on taking action against terror groups. Let us not get fooled by cosmetic steps against terror groups by Pakistan.” Hence if appeasement was Pakistan’s intention, it seemed to have failed.
Second, this was essential to evade the sanctions and also for being “blacklisted” as threatened by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The international sanction would have been shameful for Pakistan and harmful for the country’s economy. But the seriousness of these charges against Saeed and also the intensity of these cases will be understood only over time.
Aparupa Bhattacherjee is a PhD scholar at the School of Conflict and Security Studies, NIAS. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org