Pakistan bans Hafiz Saeed’s charities from getting funds, may take them over

The United States has labelled JuD and FIF “terrorist fronts” for LeT, a group Saeed founded in 1987.

By: PTI | Islamabad | Updated: January 2, 2018 7:29:23 am
Hafiz Saeed, Hafiz Saeed mumbai attack, pakistan, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, hafiz saeed charity, hafiz saeed political party, Lashkar-e-Taiba,kashmir, pakistan news, indian express news Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and a Pakistani court saw insufficient evidence to convict him. (Reuters)

Pakistan’s financial regulatory body Monday barred charities led by 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed — Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) — from collecting donations, according to a media report.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) prohibited the collection of donations by JuD, the front organisation of banned outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), as well as several other organisations named in a list of banned outfits by the UN Security Council, the Dawn reported.

Reuters had earlier reported that Pakistan’s government plans to seize control of charities and financial assets linked to Saeed.

In its report, Dawn cited a notification issued by SECP: “The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan hereby prohibits all companies from donating cash to the entities and individuals listed under the UNSC sanctions committee’s consolidated list.” The list also includes LeT, Paasban-i-Ahle-Hadith and Pasban-i-Kashmir, among others, the paper said.

The SECP notification warned that non-compliance could result in a monetary fine. “… Pakistan has already prescribed a penalty of up to Rs 10 million for non-compliance on the sanctions regime being implemented,” it said.

Reuters adds: Pakistan’s finance ministry has directed law enforcement and provincial governments to submit an action plan by December 28 for a “takeover” of JuD and FIF.

The government detailed its plans in a secret order to various provincial and federal government departments on December 19, three officials who attended one of several high-level meeting discussing the crackdown told Reuters.

The United States has labelled JuD and FIF “terrorist fronts” for LeT, a group Saeed founded in 1987. Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and a Pakistani court saw insufficient evidence to convict him.

The December 19 document, which refers to “Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issues”, names only Saeed’s two charities and “actions to be taken” against them.

The FATF, which is an international body that combats money laundering and terrorist financing, has warned Pakistan it faces inclusion on a watch list for failing to crack down on financing terrorism.

Asked about a crackdown on JuD and FIF, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who co-chaired one of the meetings on the plan, responded only generally, saying he has ordered authorities “to choke the fundraising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan”.

In a written reply to Reuters, he also said Pakistan wasn’t taking action under US pressure. “We’re not pleasing anyone. We’re working as a responsible nation to fulfil our obligations to our people and international community.”

Spokesmen for the JuD and FIF both said they could not comment until they receive official notifications of the government’s plans. “We don’t have any intimation about any crackdown so far,” FIF spokesman Salman Shahid told Reuters. “No one has asked us about our work or assets.”

If the government follows through with the plan, it would mark the first time Pakistan has made a major move against Saeed’s network, which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.

Participants at the meeting raised the possibility that the government’s failure to act against the charities could lead to UN sanctions, one of the three officials said. A UN Security Council team is due to visit Pakistan in late January to review progress against UN-designated “terrorist” groups.

“Any adverse comments or action suggested by the team can have far-reaching implications for Pakistan,” the official said.

The December 19 document gave few details about how the state would take over Saeed’s charities, pending the plans submitted from the provincial governments. It did say it would involve government entities taking over ambulance services and accounting for other vehicles used by the charities.

It says law enforcement agencies will coordinate with Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to identify the assets of the two charities and examine how they raise money.

The document also directs that the name of JuD’s 200-acre headquarters, Markaz-e-Taiba, near Lahore be changed to something else “to make it known that the Government of “Punjab (province) solely manages and operates the Markaz”.

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