An antiterrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Saturday announced that it would indict on December 7 Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the proscribed Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), and other JuD leaders who were booked in July for offences pertaining to terror financing.
Saeed, along with deputy emir Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Hafiz Abdul Salam bin Mohammad, Professor Zafar Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraf, Mohammad Yahya Aziz, and others, was presented before the court today under strict security protocol.
According to Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Rauf Watoo, the court was provided copies of the nearly two dozen cases registered against the JuD leaders during today's hearing which was presided over by Judge Malik Arshad Bhutta.
"As per the law, after the provision of copies to the court, the trial begins. The first step of a trial is indictment," explained DPG Watoo.
The state's counsel requested the court to hold daily hearings since the copies had been provided. At this, the lawyers for the JuD leaders, Naseeruddin Nayyar and Mohammad Imran Gul, argued that they be given a week's time so that they can carefully examine the documents and prepare their arguments.
When the state counsel pressed for daily hearings nonetheless, Judge Bhutta said: "The law binds us to hold a fair trial with properly prepared arguments. That's why everyone should be given time."
With this, he adjourned the trial till December 7.
On July 3, the top 13 leaders of the JuD were booked in nearly two dozen cases for terror financing and money laundering under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997.
The Counterterrorism Department (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.
Subsequently, on July 17, Saeed was arrested from Gujranwala on charges of terror financing by the Punjab CTD. He was sent to prison on judicial remand after the CTD presented him before a Gujranwala ATC.
Pakistan warned to curb terror financing
In February, the 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 virtually put the country’s entire machinery into an aggressive mode to show tangible progress within two months of the warning.
In late February, the government announced a ban on JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat 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.
Law enforcement agencies over the next few weeks intensified their crackdown on JeM, JuD, FIF and other banned outfits, and arrested more than 100 activists. Nearly 200 seminaries besides hundreds of other facilities and assets associated with them across the country were taken over by the government.
Quarterly assessments by the FATF of Pakistan's progress continued over the course of the year.
In the latest FATF review held in October, it was found that while Pakistan has made significant improvements, it will have to take "extra measures" for "complete" elimination of terror financing and money laundering. A reprieve until February 2020 has been given until when Pakistan will remain on the task force's "grey list".
In 2012, Pakistan was placed on the grey list and remained on it till 2015. The country was put on the list again on June 29, 2018. Pakistan was given 15 months for implementation of the 27-point action plan, with a warning that in case of failure the country would be added to the blacklist — a list of the countries branded as uncooperative and tax havens for terror funding.
Currently, only Iran and North Korea are on the blacklist.