New Delhi, 1 February 2017. It wasn’t India’s coercive diplomacy or surgical strike, but the threat of international sanctions by the US under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that prompted action by Pakistan against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed.
Monday’s action may put Saeed out of sight for a few months, but there is no sign that his terror activities against India would be affected. FATF, an inter-governmental body, goes for effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats.
In early January, when the Obama administration was still in office, Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington Jalil Jilani was told by a senior US official that they would put Pakistan on the FATF’s blacklist if Islamabad did not take action against LeT and JuD, and their funding mechanisms.
JuD had come under the FATF’s scanner for its financial transactions. Pakistan could declare JuD a banned or “defunct” organisation, which means it could rebadge itself and function under another name.
The strictures did not only come from the US, these were raised at the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) on money laundering, which is part of the FATF.
JuD, which is allowed to function without check in Pakistan despite coming under a ban by the United Nations Security Council’s 1267 committee, has grown beyond being just a terror group targeting India, although India remains its principal target. It is now working with the Haqqani network and other terror entities in Afghanistan and parts of West Asia.
Jilani reportedly forwarded the US message to Islamabad, Pakistan was given until January 31 to act against Saeed and JuD. This explains Saeed’s house arrest a day before the deadline.
The fact that Saeed was allowed to air a video reiterating his resolve to continue terror against India stands testimony to the fact that Pakistan does not want his arrest to be seen in the Indian context.
In fact, since January 14, Saeed has already been moving some of the India-targeted operations of JuD to a new organisation, Tehreek-e-Azaad-e-Kashmir.