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India today (Thursday, July 4) termed as mere “cosmetic steps” Pakistan claims of crackdown on Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafeez Saeed by lodging 23 cases on charges of terror financing and facilitation against him.

Saeed is also the founder of another  terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

“Pakistan is trying to hoodwink the international community on taking action against terror groups. Let us not get fooled by cosmetic steps against terror groups by Pakistan,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters.

The MEA said that Pakistan’s sincerity to take action against terrorists and terror groups will be judged on the basis of their ability to demonstrate verifiable, credible and irreversible action against terror groups operating from their soil and not on the basis of half-hearted measures which they undertake sometimes to hoodwink the international community.

“We want a normal relationship in an environment free from terror,” MEA added.

Yesterday, Pakistan’s Punjab Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) had said it registered the cases in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan for collection of funds for terror-financing through assets or properties in the names of trusts or non-profit organisations.

It also named the leaders of JuD and LeT who have been booked, including Saeed and his aides Abdul Rehman Makki, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Ameer Hamza, Muhammad Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Mohsin Bilal, Abdul Raqeeb, Ahmad Daud, Muhammad Ayub, Abdullah Ubaid, Muhammad Ali and Abdul Ghaffar.

In 2017, Hafiz Saeed and his four aides were detained by the Pakistan government under terror laws but were released after nearly 11 months when the Judicial Review Board of Punjab refused to extend their confinement further.

Today, Pakistan police gave assurances that the terror mastermind and aides will be arrested “very soon”. Asked why the men have not yet been arrested, Punjab police spokesperson Niyab Haider Naqvi said the filing of a First Information Report is a first step.”Saeed and others nominated in the FIRs will be arrested subsequently,” he added.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said Pakistan claims to take action. “But when it comes to people we want action against, you (Pakistan) go in denial mode. You try to project to international community. This is case of double standard,” he added.

Before this, he mentioned the case of 1992 Mumbai blast accused Dawood Ibrahim. Raveesh Kumar told reporters, “The location of Dawood Ibrahim is not a secret. Time and again, we have been presenting to Pakistan a list of people who are in their country. We’ve asked repeatedly that he should be handed over. His imprint on the Mumbai blast is very clear for all of us to see.”

Pakistan’s move came days after the G-20 declaration at the Osaka summit on June 28-29 gave primacy to the FATF’s “essential role” and called for the effective implementation of its standards. On June 21, at the FATF plenary session in Orlando, the US — the terror financing watchdog’s chair — had told Pakistan that it could face blacklisting at its next session in October if it did not adhere to its commitments to stop access to funds for terror groups.

Pakistan had failed to complete its action plan on terror financing on the FATF’s deadline in June last. The FATF warned Islamabad to meet its commitment by another deadline of October or face action, which could possibly lead to the country’s blacklisting.

The Paris-based global body is working to curb terrorism financing and money laundering and has asked Pakistan to reassess the operation of banned terrorist outfits in the country. In June last year, the FATF placed Pakistan on the grey list of countries whose domestic laws are considered weak to tackle the challenges of money laundering and terrorism financing.

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