Saeed’s banned charities pose challenge for Pak

Islamabad: The banned charities, which are linked to mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed, pose a grave challenge to Pakistan and still remain functional.

Pakistan, last week, banned two charities linked to Saeed.

According to a media report, the vast network of Islamist charities taken over by the Pakistani Government includes a horse-breeding stable, a fleet of trucks, a swimming academy, martial arts classes and thousands of staff and volunteers.

However, the sheer scale and diversity of the charities founded by Saeed will pose a huge challenge for Pakistan. It would be difficult for the government to run, track and control the funding and source of income of the banned charities.

“We’re still collecting details about the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD’s) facilities which have been taken over. Our financial strategists are in consultation with the federal government to prepare a plan to run these facilities,” a spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, Malik Mohammad Ahmad Khan said.

Islamabad hopes that by seizing control on JuD and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) charities, which the US has termed as terrorist fronts, it can avoid itself being included on a global watchlist of the country, that has been long criticised by others to be doing very little to curb militant financing and terrorism.

Saeed, who is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was designated as a “terrorist” by the United Nations (UN) and has a USD 10 million bounty placed on him by the US in 2012.

The LeT has been banned in Pakistan since 2002. But Saeed, who denies the involvement in the funding of militants and inciting religious violence, was freed by a Pakistani court from house arrest last year and his charity wings had been allowed to remain in operation.

Those charities are the focus of a motion co-sponsored by the US and European allies calling for Pakistan to be placed on the terrorist financing watchlist maintained by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money-laundering watchdog.

The move is a part of a strategy by the US to pressurise Pakistan to cut its alleged links to Islamist militants.

Pakistan was on the FATF “grey list” from 2012 to 2015. Islamabad is going all out to avert being put back on the list, a measure officials fear could hurt its economy, by taking a series of measures such as amending the country’s anti-terrorism law and banning JuD and FIF from collecting charities from people.

Islamabad has long denied accusations from India and the US and other countries that it supports Islamist militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The US State Department in 2014 had named the JuD as “foreign terrorist organisation”, a status that freezes assets of the organisation under its jurisdiction.

Saeed is also looking to contest the 2018 general elections in Pakistan and has, thereby, formed a party by the name of Milli Muslim League (MML).

New Delhi has, time and again, protested against Islamabad for harbouring Saeed, who is wanted for plotting the 2008 attacks. (ANI)