–ATC sends proscribed outfit’s chief to jail on judicial remand, orders CTD to complete probe and submit charge sheet within stipulated time
LAHORE: Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was on Wednesday arrested in connection with a terrorism financing case while on his way from Lahore to Gujranwala.
According to a Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Punjab spokesman, Hafiz Saeed was sent to prison on judicial remand after he was presented before a Gujranwala anti-terrorism court (ATC).
The CTD has been directed to complete its investigation and submit a charge sheet to the court in the stipulated time.
Earlier, according to CTD sources, Saeed was arrested by CTD Punjab in the Gujranwala jurisdiction while he was on his way to an ATC in Gujranwala to seek bail.
A JuD spokesperson also confirmed the arrest to Reuters news agency.
On July 3, the top 13 leaders of the banned JuD, including Saeed and deputy chief Abdul Rehman Makki, were booked in nearly two dozen cases for terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The CTD, which registered the cases in five cities of Punjab, declared that the JuD was financing terrorism from the massive funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts, including Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, Muaz Bin Jabal Trust, etc.
These non-profit organisations were banned in April as the CTD during detailed investigations found that they had links with the JuD and its top leadership, accused of financing terrorism by building huge assets/properties from the collected funds in Pakistan.
On Monday, a Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench sought replies from the Ministry of Interior, Punjab Home Department and CTD on a petition filed by JuD chief Saeed and his seven aides challenging an FIR carrying a charge of terror financing.
Advocate AK Dogar represented the petitioners and contended that the facts narrated in the impugned FIR registered on July 1, 2019 illegally described them as members of LeT and levelled unlawful allegations of terror financing.
The counsel referred to a 2009 judgement by an LHC full bench against the then detention of Hafiz Saeed and stated that the petitioners were not members of LeT.
He said the LHC through another judgement issued in 2003 had also held that Hafiz Saeed left the leadership of LeT on Dec 24, 2001 while the organisation was banned on Jan 14, 2002.
The lawyer pleaded that the claim of the government that the petitioners were members of LeT stood disapproved in light of the two judgements. Therefore, he asked the court to quash the impugned FIR lodged by the CTD for being unlawful and of no legal effect.
A government law officer opposed the petition and stated that it was not maintainable at this stage of the case.
However, the bench comprising Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry and Justice Waheed Khan directed the law officer to furnish written replies on behalf of the respondents by July 30.
The other petitioners are Mohammad Ayub Sheikh, Zafar Iqbal, Syed Luqman Ali Shah, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Abdul Salam, Abdul Ghaffar and Abdul Qudoos Shahid.
Also on Monday, an ATC in Lahore had granted pre-arrest bail to the JuD chief and three others in a case pertaining to the outfit’s alleged illegal use of land for its seminary, against surety bonds of Rs50,000 each.
In February, Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) had warned Pakistan to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering.
Risks to the global financial system have virtually put the country’s entire machinery into an aggressive mode to show tangible progress within two months of the warning.
While the meetings were taking place, the government had announced a ban on JuD and Falah-e-Insanyat Foundation to partially address the concerns raised by India that Pakistan supported these and six similar organisations, including Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) or at least considered them low-risk entities.