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Pakistan PM reluctant to take stern action against Hafiz Saeed: Report

By PTI
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    Islamabad, February 20: Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reversed his decision to take stern action against Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-i- Insaniyat Foundation fearing that any such move could trigger a political crisis, a media report said.

    Hafiz Saeed. PTI file photo

    Pakistan has come under intense pressure to rein in terror groups after US President Donald Trump accused the country of harbouring terrorists and suspended nearly USD 2 billion in security assistance to it.

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

    At a meeting, Abbasi said both the outfits "should be banned but Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was of the view that if these organisations were banned at this point, the government would be facing a similar crisis which it faced in November," The News reported, citing two different sources who attended the meeting last month.

    In November, sit-in by supporters of Islamist organisation Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi in Faizabad had paralyzed the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

    In the meeting, Prime Minister s Adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua apprised him of the possible repercussions of the upcoming Financial Action Task Force s (FATF) meeting that could decide placing Pakistan on the watch list of countries that financially aid terrorism, the paper said.

    After their input, Abbasi constituted a three-member committee, comprising Iqbal, Ismail and Attorney General Ishtar Ausaf, to finalise the decision of taking a strict action against the JuD and FIF, it said.

    The committee decided to resolve the issue through a presidential ordinance bringing an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 enabling the law to freeze all the assets of the organisations banned by the UN Security Council.

    The paper quoted Ausaf as saying that still a notification by the Interior Ministry was required to formally ban both the organisations.

    Following the February 9 presidential ordinance, the federal government formally ordered the freezing of all the assets of JUD and FIF across the country without placing them in Schedule I of Anti-Terrorism law, the paper said.

    Early this month, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah had said that on the interior ministry's directions, Saeed and his charities have been banned to operate in Pakistan and the government has already started taking over all the facilities, offices, schools, dispensaries and seminaries that belong to the JuD and FIF.

    The law explicitly defines placement of any organisation into the banned list that is not enabling the police to take any legal action against both the organisations.

    "Although, the federal government has decided to freeze the assets of JUD and FIF through the law, it does not empower the provincial police to register cases against their activists, so we ve taken over their assets but not registered cases against their activists," the paper quoted a senior officer police officer as saying.

    Citing sources, it said a formal notification of placement of JuD and FIF in Schedule I was still awaited. Without the said notification both the organisations will not be formally admitted as a defunct organisation at the federal and provincial levels.

    The sources claimed that in the same pretext the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) has refused to update its list of banned organisations on its website.

    A high-level meeting, headed by the Nacta chief Ehsan Ghani on February 15 deliberated the above-mentioned notification of the interior ministry and also pointed out the same flaw in the notification issued by the government, the paper added.

    PTI

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