The sentence to Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed days ahead of a key meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris is just an eyewash to delude the international community, say defence experts in New Delhi on Saturday.
Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiban armed group and the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks, was sentenced to five and a half years’ prison by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan in a case related to terrorism financing.
PK Sehgal, a defence expert said, “Hafiz Saeed is a creation of Pakistani dispensation, Pakistani Army and the ISI. They use him to effectively cause mayhem, disturbance, and chaos in India and under no circumstances would they let him down. This is only a facade and a showcase.”
He added, “Once the plenary meeting will be over and Pakistan escapes getting put into blacklist, Saeed, though behind bars, will be treated as a super VIP and will be allowed access to all perks that he was enjoying prior to this”
Another expert Qamar Agha said, “Sometimes what they do is that they arrest these types of leaders when the pressure comes and later they are released by the higher court and we know the Pakistani courts are increasingly governed by the people who have direct and indirect connections with extremist Islamic organizations like Jamaat-e-Islami.”
The FATF will be issuing a decision on whether Pakistan has taken sufficient steps to avoid being “blacklisted”. If blacklisted, Pakistan would face isolation from the international banking system, introducing stricter checks and safeguards on transactions involving the country.
Experts believe that Pakistan has perfected the art of misleading the international community through the years.
Sehgal said, “Pakistan only wants to convince the world that it is acting very strongly against those who are indulging in terrorism, money laundering and terror financing. But, if you look at the charge-sheet closely, there is no mention of the terrorist activities by Hafiz Saeed at all”.
The United Nations has long designated the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat (FIF) as fronts for the LeT.
Last year, under pressure after the FATF review, Pakistan formally banned Saeed’s JuD and other associated organisations, after years of allowing them to operate freely across the country.