Pakistan’s ban on Saeed’s outfits lapses

Pakistan’s ban on Saeed’s outfits lapses

The country is on the FATF greylist

India questioned Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terrorism following reports that Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) and its associate group Falah-I-Insaniyat Foundation are no longer on the list of banned organisations.

In a submission to the Islamabad High Court, the legal team representing Hafiz Saeed, accused in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, said on Thursday the Presidential ordinance of February 2018 that put the organisations on the list, has lapsed, indicating that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan has not extended the ban.

An official source highlighted Pakistan’s support to terrorism and said, “The decision reflects lack of sincerity on the part of Pakistan to meet its international obligation to fight terrorism.”

No move on ordinance

Hafiz Saeed’s team had challenged the ordinance that was issued in February during the tenure of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. A report in Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn said the Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan had neither extended the ordinance nor attempted to turn it into a law.

Mr. Saeed, accused by India of masterminding the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, argued in court that he set up Jamaat-ud Dawa in 2002 after severing ties with the banned organisation Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT). India accuses LeT of committing terrorist attacks in Kashmir apart from being the tool for the Mumbai strikes.

The developments reveal that the Pakistani position of not extending the Presidential ordinance is a complete turnaround from its submission to the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that put it on a “greylist” earlier this year.

In February, under pressure from the FATF, the government had promulgated a presidential ordinance to amend the Anti Terrorism Act, 1997, to bring into its purview all organisations proscribed by the United Nations Security Council, including the Jamaat-ud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation. Officials had taken over ambulances, schools and health centres run by the two organisations and handed them over to provincial governments and the Red Crescent.

However, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not bring the ordinance to Parliament in the next session that ended in May, and subsequently the National Assembly was dissolved for elections.

Impact on lenders

While the government’s failure to pass the ordinance may allow it to remove the ban on the UN-designated terror groups, it is expected to lead to further censure at the FATF. It will also make it more difficult for international financial institutions and banks to do business in Pakistan and for Pakistani businesses to raise money overseas.

At a time when Pakistan faces a crippling $12-billion debt crisis, with a team from the IMF expect to meet the Imran Khan government on November 7, any further FATF strictures could have lasting impact on the Pakistani economy.

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