With International pressure mounting on Pakistan to list Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council, the UN Wednesday rejected an appeal by Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed to remove him from the list of UN-sanctioned terrorists.
Pakistan, meanwhile, sealed the Lahore headquarters of JuD and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) as part of the ongoing crackdown against banned organisations. The government “has taken complete control of the banned JuD and FIF headquarters in Lahore and Muridkey”, the Home Department of Pakistan’s Punjab province said Thursday.
At the UN, Saeed’s appeal was opposed by India, US, UK, France and Afghanistan, sources said. The five countries shared details about Saeed’s terror activities across 23 countries to the UN, including his role in the 26/11 attack in 2008, which killed 166 people. Pakistan did not oppose the appeal.
Saeed, who was listed as a terrorist in the UNSC Resolution 1267 sanctions committee, had appealed against the UN decision through Lahore-based law firm Mirza and Mirza in 2017, while he was still under house arrest in Pakistan.
Since then, sources said, the UN’s Independent Ombudsperson Daniel Kipfer Fasciati and his team sought to travel to Pakistan to interview Saeed but were denied visas. The interview and cross-examination were finally conducted over video conference.
Sources said Saeed’s appeal was based on two claims: he was not associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Pakistan’s courts had freed him. But the Ombudsperson concluded that Saeed was still “Amir” of JuD, that JeD and LeT are “congruent” and that “there is no reason to doubt the assumption”.
It was also found that while Pakistani courts said Saeed was not a threat to the country, they did not state that he was not a threat outside, sources said.
The Ombudsperson informed Saeed’s lawyer that he will “continue as a listed individual” as “there was sufficient information to provide a reasonable and credible basis” for the decision, sources said. The recommendation was endorsed by the UN’s Sanctions Committee, they said.
The snub comes at a time when Pakistan appears to have intensified its crackdown against UN-sanctioned terrorist groups with its government claiming that it has taken control of 182 religious schools and detained more than 120 people.
The crackdown follows heightened tensions between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack that was claimed by JeM, with IAF jets targetting a Jaish camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistani jets crossing the LoC.
Pakistani officials said the Punjab province government alone has seized control of 160 seminaries, 32 schools, two colleges, four hospitals, 178 ambulances and 153 dispensaries linked to banned organisations. Authorities also took control of 529 properties of banned outfits, mostly JuD and MeM, and arrested more than 100 activists.
The Sindh government took over 56 facilities being run by the JuD and FIF in Karachi and other districts. Similar action was taken in Peshawar and Lower Dir districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as Quetta and areas of Balochistan. Raids were conducted in Islamabad and Rawalpindi where more than a dozen holdings of proscribed organisations were sealed.
A senior official told Dawn newspaper that agencies sealed a seminary of JeM and 46 properties of the JuD in Faisalabad, and arrested 22 suspected workers of banned outfits.
Meanwhile, sources said UK’s National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill has contacted NSA Ajit Doval and offered all bilateral assistance in dealing with terrorism through cooperation, intelligence-sharing and by bringing the perpetrators of terrorist attacks to justice, sources said. Sedwill also expressed solidarity with India in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, they said.