KARACHI: An antiterrorism court (ATC) on Thursday acquitted three suspects of having laundered over Rs20 billion from Afghanistan in the name of a government primary schoolteacher through hawala to fund terrorist activities in Pakistan.

Accused Bacha Khan, Umra Khan and a banker, Akbar Khan, were charged with facilitation, terror financing and money laundering through bank accounts maintained in three private banks in Pakistan in 2012.

On Thursday, the ATC-II judge pronounced her verdict, which was earlier reserved after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

Umra Khan was brought from prison while Bacha Khan and Akbar Khan, who were on bail, appeared in the court.

The judge noted that the prosecution had miserably failed to prove the charge against the three accused.

The prosecutor alleged that Umra Khan had been using this money coming from Afghanistan for financing terrorists and other anti-state elements. He along with Zoor Talab Khan, Bacha Khan, Alam Khan, Ameenullah and others committed offences including terror financing, hawala business, money laundering and forgery.

Bacha Khan was accused of operating the bank accounts.The bank accounts of a firm, M/s Salar Enterprises, that was dealing in marble, were credited with major transactions made by two pharmaceutical companies for the purchase of medicines exported to Afghanistan from Pakistan, the counsel stated.

According to the FIA, the schoolteacher, Zoor Talab Khan, was found involved in maintaining six bank accounts in Karachi and Buner (Khyber Pakhtunkhawa), in 2012. A sum of around 20 billion was deposited in these accounts, opened on the directives of Umra Khan used for his hawala business through his managers, Alam Khan and Ameenullah.Defence counsel Abid Zaman contended that Umra Khan and his son Bacha Khan were running a crockery business in Buner, adding that Zoor Talab Khan had authorised Bacha Khan to use one of his bank accounts in Buner.

The case was registered under Sections 11-H of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 read with the Sections 4, 5 and 23 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947 read with the Sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 read with the Sections 109, 420, 468 and 471 of the Pakistan Penal Code at the FIA/CTW police station in Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2021

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