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Hafiz Saeed, other JuD leaders freely use group’s offices despite ban by Pakistan govt

Pakistan, last month, claimed that the government had seized all assets and frozen bank accounts of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation.

world Updated: Mar 06, 2018 18:16 IST
Press Trust of India, Lahore
Hafiz Saeed,Lashkar-e-Taiba,Pakistan FATF
Hafiz Saeed, the head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa — believed to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba — greeting protesters as they gather to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day in Lahore on February 5, 2018.(AFP)

Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and other leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) are still freely using the banned groups’ offices despite Pakistan’s claims that all the assets of the two outfits have been seizedand their bank accounts frozen, an official said on Tuesday.

The government last month had taken over the JuD’s famous Muridke Markaz and Lahore’s headquarters of Masjid Al Qadsia in Chauburji. But on ground neither Saeed and his supporters left the JuD’s Chauburji headquarters nor that of Muridke and other offices of JuD and the FIF in the country.

“Since the government has taken over the control of JuD headquarters in Lahore in mid last month, Saeed delivered three Friday sermons in three successive weeks there in the presence of a large number of his supporters. The government could only deploy its administrator at al Qadsia while the JuD men are operating from there the way they used to,” an official of the Punjab government told PTI on Tuesday.

A similar arrangement was made at JuD’s Muridke headquarters, he added.

“The government has not barred Saeed and activists of his charities from using the JuD headquarters in Lahore and Muridke, and other offices of the two organisations,” he said.

The government had initiated action against Saeed’s organisations in pursuance of an ordinance issued by President Mamnoon Hussain in February amending the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, and allowing the state to proscribe UNSC-listed organisations, some of which had been exempt from prosecution.

The move had also come in the backdrop of a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental money-laundering watchdog, that put Pakistan on a grey list.

At the FATF meeting in Paris last month, Saeed and his “charities” were top on the list of the groups that the FATF wanted Pakistan to act against.

Pakistan last week vowed to take further actions to address certain “deficiencies” highlighted by the FATF in its anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing framework.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said the officials from various government departments had been appointed as administrators of JuD’s offices to oversee the working of welfare-oriented facilities like dispensaries and schools.

To a question about as why the JuD leadership including Saeed had not been stopped using the JuD headquarters in Lahore and Muridke, the minister said: “We have taken over all JuD and FIF facilities including schools, dispensaries, offices and seminaries. These are now in the government’s control.”

Another official told PTI that the government at this stage does not want to stop Saeed and other JuD leaders from using its main headquarters as it may lead to a clash between them.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 18:16 IST