External Affairs

Pakistan Taking ‘First Logical Steps’ Against Hafiz Saeed, Says India

India’s response came after the 28/11 mastermind was added to the fourth schedule of Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act, placing limits on his movement.

Hafiz Saeed, chief of the Jamat-ud-Dawa, speaks with the media before being put under house arrest in Lahore, Pakistan. Credit: Reuters/Files

Hafiz Saeed, chief of the Jamat-ud-Dawa, speaks with the media before being put under house arrest in Lahore, Pakistan. Credit: Reuters/Files

New Delhi: After Pakistan “proscribed” Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) leader Hafiz Saeed under its Anti-Terrorism Act, India said that “effective” action against the 26/11 mastermind was a “logical first step” towards getting justice and combatting terrorism.

On Friday, Pakistan’s Punjab province added Saeed and four other aides to the fourth schedule of the act, which led to them to be “proscribed” for the first time since a UN Security Council panel listed him as an international terrorist on December 10, 2008.

This development follows the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed on January 30. At that time, JuD and its charitable subsidiary, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) were in the second schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Saeed was also put on the exit control list.

India’s response at that time of the house arrest was that Saeed had been arrested before and released within a few months several times before, therefore only a “credible crackdown” would be “proof of Pakistan’s sincerity”.

When Saeed had applied for removal of his name from the exit control list, India said that it was a matter between the JuD and his “handlers” in Pakistan.

Therefore, the Indian reaction on Monday to the addition of Saeed to the fourth schedule seems to be tonally more positive.

“Hafiz Saeed is an international terrorist, the mastermind of Mumbai terrorist attack and responsible for unleashing wave of terrorism against Pakistan’s neighbours through Lashkar-e-Toiba/Jamaat-ud-Daawa and their affiliates. Effective action mandated internationally against him and his terrorist organisations and colleagues  is a logical first step in bringing them to justice, and in ridding our region of the twin menaces of terrorism and violent extremism,” said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

An individual listed under fourth schedule would have to take permission from the authorities to leave his permanent residence and keep the police informed about his engagements during travels.

According to Dawn, the Pakistan interior ministry told Punjab police’s counter-terrorism department that the five members are “active members of the Jamaatud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniyat” and directed them “move and take necessary action”.

The action against Saeed was apparently a result of pressure from the US and other countries to take immediate steps after an adverse report from the Asia Pacific Group on money laundering which had raised objections over JuD’s financial transactions.

Pakistan had been warned that if no substantial action was taken, it would be referred by Financial Action Task Force to the International Cooperation Review Group process, which reviews and issues public warnings about the risk of financial transactions with identified countries.

Indian officials believed that action against Saeed was a reflection of the new confidence of the Nawaz Sharif government, after the new army chief Qamar Ahmed Bajwa took over, giving a bit more leeway to civilian government to pursue their reconciliation with New Delhi.