Hafiz Saeed, other JuD leaders still freely using group's offices despite ban in Pakistan

File photo: 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

PTI Lahore, Pakistan Mar 06, 2018, 02.58 PM (IST)

Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and other leaders of the JuD and the FIF are still freely using the banned groups' offices despite Pakistan's claims that all the assets of the two outfits have been seized and their bank accounts frozen, an official said on Tuesday.

The government last month had taken over the Jamaat-ud-Dawa's famous Muridke Markaz and Lahore's headquarters of Masjid Al Qadsia in Chauburji. But on ground neither Saeed and his supporters left the JuD's Chauburji headquarters nor that of Muridke and other offices of JuD and the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) in the country.

"Since the government has taken over the control of JuD headquarters in Lahore in mid last month, Saeed delivered three Friday sermons in three successive weeks there in the presence of a large number of his supporters. The government could only deploy its administrator at Al Qadsia while the JuD men are operating from there the way they used to," an official of the Punjab government said on Tuesday.

A similar arrangement was made at JuD's Muridke headquarters, he added.

"The government has not barred Saeed and activists of his charities from using the JuD headquarters in Lahore and Muridke, and other offices of the two organisations," he said.

The government had initiated action against Saeed's organisations in pursuance of an ordinance issued by President Mamnoon Hussain in February amending the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, and allowing the state to proscribe UNSC-listed organisations, some of which had been exempt from prosecution. 

The move had also come in the backdrop of a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental money-laundering watchdog, that put Pakistan on a grey list.

At the FATF meeting in Paris last month, Saeed and his "charities" were top on the list of the groups that the FATF wanted Pakistan to act against.

Pakistan last week vowed to take further actions to address certain "deficiencies" highlighted by the FATF in its anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing framework. 

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said the officials from various government departments had been appointed as administrators of JuD's offices to oversee the working of welfare-oriented facilities like dispensaries and schools. 

To a question about as why the JuD leadership including Saeed had not been stopped using the JuD headquarters in Lahore and Muridke, the minister said: "We have taken over all JuD and FIF facilities including schools, dispensaries, offices and seminaries. These are now in the government's control."

Another official said that the government at this stage does not want to stop Saeed and other JuD leaders from using its main headquarters as it may lead to a clash between them.