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Hafiz Saeed’s conviction and beyond

The conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his aid Malik Zafar Iqbal is a corrective step, and this must continue until all other militant wings, accused of using Pakistani soil for their activities home and abroad, are dealt with according to the law. Though very late, but the government pursued cases against Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Malik Zafar Iqbal in an anti-terrorism court and got them convicted for five-and-a-half-year rigorous imprisonment (RI) each in two of the cases relating to terror financing. The case was registered in July 2019 in Gujranwala. The presiding judge stated that in addition to evidence presented by the prosecution, both accused also admitted the ownership of the property by Tanzeem Markaz Dawatul Irshad, a proscribed organisation.
Their lawyer was quick to link the verdict with pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international terror financing watchdog. The defence lawyer is likely to challenge the verdict in in the Lahore High Court. He said that the charge of terror fundraising was not established before the trial court, but the conviction was given under pressure from FATF. Since the initiation of FATF proceedings in 2018, Hafiz Saeed and other militant wings have been under international spotlight. In 2019, Hafiz Saeed and other leaders of JuD were put under detention and soon the Counter Terrorism Department took up 23 cases in 2019 under similar charges against them in different cities of the province. This happened when the world was demanding verifiable action from the Pakistani government against militants. The verdict will send positive vibes to the world. Chief US diplomat for South Asian affairs Alice Wells has hailed the decision, calling it a “step forward” for Pakistan. In her tweet, she stated: “Today’s 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.” She also cited Prime Minister Imran Khan as having said, “It is in the interest of Pakistan’s future that it not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil”. It is the high time all non-state actions faced similar action. The government must come up with a seminary reform plan so that these networks are streamlined.



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