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China Asks Pak to Shift 26/11 Mastermind Hafiz Saeed to a West Asian Country: Report

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has consulted the government’s legal team, which is yet to come up with a solution. The issue is expected to be referred to the next government as the Prime Minister will leave office on May 31 after completion of his tenure. The general election will be held at July-end.

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Updated:May 25, 2018, 8:47 AM IST
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China Asks Pak to Shift 26/11 Mastermind Hafiz Saeed to a West Asian Country: Report
File photo of 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
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New Delhi: Amid mounting international pressure to act against 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, China has asked Pakistan to explore ways of relocating the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief to a West Asian country.

According to an exclusive report of The Hindu, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested this course of action to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to allow Saeed to “live a quiet life in a West Asian country”.

“At a 35-minute meeting (on the sidelines of the Boao Forum in China last month), at least 10 minutes of the discussion dealt with Saeed. The Chinese President was keen on pressing the Prime Minister to find an early solution to keep Saeed away from the limelight,” a close aide of Abbasi told The Hindu, requesting anonymity.

The newspaper states that Abbasi has consulted the government’s legal team, which is yet to come up with a solution. The issue is expected to be referred to the next government as the Prime Minister will leave office on May 31 after completion of his tenure. The general election will be held at July-end.

The discussion on Saeed between the two countries comes a fortnight after former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif publicly acknowledged that militant organisations are active in the country and questioned the policy to allow the "non-state actors" to cross the border and "kill" people in Mumbai.

The JuD has been accusing the government of taking action against Saeed at the instance of the US and India.

Saeed, who met some journalists over Iftar on Tuesday in Karachi, refused to believe that China would want a ban on him or to see him out of the country. However, he admitted that China would act as a super power and dictate to Pakistan. He denied that any government functionary had met him in recent weeks to discuss the future of the JuD.

Saeed, who has been declared a global terrorist by the United Nations, the U.S. and India, carries a reward of $5 million on his head for his alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistani authorities last year put him under house arrest for almost nine months but were forced to release him on the orders of the Lahore High Court.

Earlier this year, the JuD was put on the list of banned organisations just before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris. Following the meeting, it was decided to put Pakistan on the grey list for its failure to prevent terror financing.

In April, the US has also designated Milli Muslim League (MML), the political front of Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa, as a foreign terrorist organization.

The JuD was reported by Indonesia after the authorities detected some money channelled through the country by the outfit. Indonesia notified the FATF.

A Presidential Ordinance was issued to freeze all assets of Hafiz Saeed, linked to the JuD and its charity arm, Falah-i-Insaaniyat Foundation.

Interestingly, the JuD was not put in Schedule 1 of the Anti-Terrorism Act under which the leaders of a banned organisation must be arrested. “The federal government is pleased to direct that requisite actions with regard to freezing and taking over of assets (movable, immovable and human resource) associated with the JuD and the FIF shall be taken in pursuance of ordinance No II of 2018,” read a notification of the Interior Ministry.

An Interior Ministry source said a formal notification of its placement on Schedule I was held back. “Without the notification, the organisation will not be formally admitted as a defunct organisation,” he said. Another clue that the JuD and the FIF were not banned as claimed by the government is the list of banned organisations by the National Counter Terrorism Authority.

On the ground, the Punjab government took the JuD’s madrassas and health facilities in Rawalpindi. The provincial government also issued a notification barring collection of donations by the JuD and the FIF. The JuD has a network of over 150 ambulances, six hospitals, 60 schools and scores of madrassas across Punjab and the Pakistan-administered Kashmir and northern areas.

In January this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan issued a circular to all companies barring them from donating money to those entities put on the UNSC sanctioned list. The government also tabled a Bill to formalise the ban on the JuD but it has not been passed so far.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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