Senior U.S. diplomat Alice Wells on Thursday praised yesterday’s conviction of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed as an “important step forward” for Pakistan in meetings its commitments to combat terror financing.
“Today’s conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward—both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing,” she posted on Twitter.
On Wednesday, an anti-terrorism court in Lahore convicted Saeed and aide Malik Zafar Iqbal to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in two cases related to terror financing and support for proscribed organizations. The verdict comes less than a week ahead of a Financial Action Task Force meeting in Paris that is believed to determine whether Pakistan will be retained—or removed—from the “grey list” it has occupied for the past two years.
In a follow-up tweet from the account of the U.S. Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Principal Deputy Secretary for South Asian Affairs Wells noted that the move was in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statements. “As Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, it is in the interest of Pakistan’s future that it not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil,” she added.
The arrest of Saeed, accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that left 166 people dead, has been a longstanding demand of the U.S. and India. Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the U.S. and U.N. over his alleged role in the attacks.
Authorities in Pakistan launched a crackdown against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa head and his cohorts last year after the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force warned that Islamabad could be blacklisted if it did not act to curb terror financing and money laundering. The government has since banned Dawa and the Falah-e-Insanyat Foundation—the “charitable” arm of Saeed’s organization.