India on Thursday questioned the efficacy of the verdict by a Pakistani court, sentencing Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed to five years in prison for terror financing, the Hindustan Times reported. The Indian government said it was peculiar that the decision was taken on the eve of the plenary meeting of global anti-terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force.
“We have seen media reports that a court in Pakistan has sentenced UN designated and internationally proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed in terror financing case,” a source close to the development said. “It is part of a long pending international obligation of Pakistan to put an end to support for terrorism.”
The source said that it is to be noted that the verdict was passed on the eve of the plenary meeting of the FATF. “Hence, the efficacy of this decision remains to be seen,” they added. Saeed was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail in two terror financing cases.
Other sources with knowledge of the development said that it has to be seen whether Pakistan would take action against all other terrorist entities and individuals operating from territories under its control. These officials called on Islamabad to punish the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and the 2016 Pathankot attack. Saeed is the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attack.
Meanwhile, the United States on Wednesday called the sentencing of Saeed an important step towards holding the Lashkar-e-Taiba responsible, PTI reported. “Today’s conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward both towards holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells said.
Wells said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that it is in his country’s interest not to allow non-state actors to operate from its soil.
In October last year, the Financial Action Task Force indicted Pakistan for failing to deliver on 22 out of 27 targets it had set for the country. The task force also warned Pakistan it will be blacklisted if it fails to achieve the targets within four months.
The inter-governmental body sets standards for fighting illicit finance globally. In June last year, it asked Pakistan to complete an action plan on terror financing and urged Islamabad to meet the October 2019 deadline. In June 2018, Pakistan was put on its “grey list” and given the 27-point action plan.