LAHORE: 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's judicial remand was extended by 14 days on Wednesday by a Pakistan court. The UN-designated terrorist was arrested by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Pakistan's Punjab Police on July 17 in connection with terror financing case.
In a major crackdown against terror financing days before Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to the United States, the CTD had registered 23 cases against the JuD chief and 12 aides for using five trusts to "funnel funds to terror suspects" on July 16. Saeed was on his way to Gujranwala from Lahore when he was intercepted by the authorities and sent to judicial remand.
The move also came days after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) continued to place Pakistan on its "grey list" after it failing to meet deadlines to control money laundering and terrorism financing. The watchdog has now set an October deadline to improve its efforts against terror financing.
However, a senior Pakistan official said that Saeed's arrest has no links with Khan's US visit or FATF. “The arrest of the religion-political leader of a proscribed party was part of the ongoing measures under the National Action Plan," said Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan, at a conference.
This is not for the first time that the co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the chief of proscribed outfit Jama'at-ud-Da'wah (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) has been arrested. The last time when he was arrested, the Pakistani courts had released him due to lack of evidence.
A day after his arrest, US President Donald Trump said that US pressure led to the capture of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief. It was countered strongly by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee in a tweet. "FYI Pakistan wasn't searching for him for 10 years. He’s been living freely, and was arrested and released in: December 2001, May 2002, October 2002, August 2006 (twice), December 2008, September 2009, January 2017," it tweeted. "Let's hold the applause till he's convicted."
FYI Pakistan wasn't searching for him for 10 years. He’s been living freely, and was arrested and released in:
August 2006 (twice)
Let’s hold the until he’s convicted. https://t.co/qMtD7wgSp9
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) July 17, 2019
India also dismissed Saeed's recent arrest as a mere "drama".
"This has not been the first time that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested or detained. This drama has taken place at least eight times since 2001," said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. New Delhi has asked Islamabad to take credible, irreversible and sustainable measures on terror groups and financing of terror from any territory under its control.