The United States on Sunday said Pakistan must prevent militant groups from operating on its soil and prosecute Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives along with its leader Hafiz Saeed. Alice Wells, US acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, made the comments ahead of Financial Action Task Force’s decision to blacklist the country for failing in its counter-terrorism efforts.

“We welcome news that Pakistan arrested 4 #LeT leaders,” Wells tweeted. “The victims of LeT’s vicious attacks deserve to see these individuals prosecuted now, along with LeT leader Hafiz Saeed.”

Last week, Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies had arrested the “top four leaders” of the banned LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawah for terror financing. The authorities had claimed they would put the “entire core leadership” of these terror outfits on trial. Those arrested were identified as Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam, according to PTI.

“As Prime Minister Imran Khan has said, Pakistan, for its own future, must prevent militant groups from operating on its soil,” Wells added.

Earlier in the day, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval accused Pakistan of providing a safe breeding ground to terrorists, and said it was under pressure from the Financial Action Task Force. “The biggest pressure on Pakistan comes from the functionaries of the FATF, which is meeting now,” Doval said at a meeting of Anti-Terrorism Squad chiefs in Delhi.

FATF ‘grey list’

In June 2018, Pakistan was put on the “grey list” by the global anti-terror watchdog and given a 27-point action plan to implement in order to be taken off the list.

Last week, a regional arm of the Financial Action Task Force found that Pakistan failed to fully implement its obligations under a United Nations Security Council resolution against designated terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed and terror organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa. In the 228-page report, the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering said Pakistan had not complied with four of the 40 recommendations given by the FATF, had “partially complied” with 26 recommendations, “largely complied” with nine, and complied with only one.

In August, Pakistan had rejected Indian reports that the Financial Action Task Force’s Asia Pacific Group had placed Islamabad on an “enhanced blacklist” for non-compliance and non-enforcement of safeguards against terror financing and money laundering. In June, the global watchdog had warned Pakistan to complete an action plan on terror financing and urged Islamabad to meet the October 2019 deadline.

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