Pakistan’s “action plan” against Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief Hafiz Saeed, formulated in the face of growing international pressure on it to erase its home-grown terror network, seems to be mere eyewash.
All that Pakistan has done after “taking over” the assets of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), charities run by Saeed, is renaming them in its official books, replacing signboards hanging outside the offices of JuD and FIF, and appointing a government administrator there—any real action is missing.
The Sunday Guardian learnt about Pakistan’s “token actions” against the FIF and the JuD, which it banned in mid-February, through its sources on the ground as well as other sources.
The “action plan” aims to generate a false impression that Pakistan is going tough on terror. It was initiated after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Pakistan on their terrorist financing watch-list. Sources said that the Lashkar’s main office, which is situated in Mudrike near Lahore, spread across 150 acres and protected by CCTVs and huge walls, was the first facility that saw the “makeover” as the signboard of JUD was removed and four government officials were posted there. The facility, which is guarded by dedicated Lashkar operatives with automatic weapons, however, continues to remain there. The JuD was “founded” by Saeed in 2002.
According to unofficial estimates, the Lashkar, through Jud and FIF, runs around 250 small madrasas, multiple schools, clinics and an ambulance service, and claims to have at least 50,000 volunteers on its roll. These two organisations, according to law enforcement agencies, are used as a front to launder money that Lashkar receives through donations from sympathetic countries, organisations and individuals.
These facilities, which have been “taken over” by the government, are being renamed as government complex and government officials are being posted there to give an impression that the facility has now been brought under the control of the government. However, as per sources, the workers and functionaries of JuD and FIF continue to exercise real control over these facilities. These actions have not stopped Hafiz Saeed from giving his Friday sermons and attacking the United States and India and the government in Pakistan for succumbing to pressure from the “infidels”. Pakistan last week was placed by the FATF on the “grey list” of nations that are not doing enough to combat terror financing—a formal announcement of this list will be made in June. Pakistan has been given three months to amend if it does not want to be listed, which would obviously hamper foreign investments coming to that country. Sources said that it was in anticipation of this move that its officials started “seizing” JuD assets. Pakistan had been on this list from 2012 to 2015. FATF spokesperson Alexandra Wijmenga-Daniel told The Sunday Guardian that the FATF Working Group maintains confidentiality and the plenary discussions are confidential, too, and, hence, the details regarding Pakistan cannot be shared. She added that after every plenary meeting, jurisdictions that may pose a risk to the international financial system were updated in the records. After a country is placed on the FATF list, it works along with the FATF to prepare an action plan. Official sources said that come June, Pakistan will become subject to FATF’s monitoring process for its action on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. Once its name is part of the list, it is likely to remain so for at least 12 months.