Hafiz Saeed’s charities in firing line

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has banned two charities linked to Hafiz Saeed, with authorities seizing control of offices and financial assets of the charities, an official said on Wednesday.

The action comes days before a meeting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering watchdog, which will consider a US-sponsored motion to place Pakistan on a list of countries failing to prevent terrorism financing.

The operations in Pakistan of Hafiz Saeed’s extensive network – which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services – has been a particular concern of the United States.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said the Ministry of Interior had issued a notification against the two charities, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), this week.

“We have received the interior ministry directions, and according to that, Hafiz Saeed and his charities, like JuD and FIF, have been banned to operate in Pakistan,” Sanaullah said.

In the city of Rawalpindi, district officers had begun taking over the charities’ offices, a city official said.

“We’ve taken over all the JuD and FIF assets. We’ve completed the takeover,” Rawalpindi commissioner Nadeem Aslam said.

Aslam said he did not have an exact number of offices and seminaries involved in the asset seizure but data was being compiled in all four districts of Rawalpindi division and he expected full details of the assets.

A spokesmen for JuD declined to make an immediate comment but said a statement would be issued.

Officials at FIF could not be reached for comment, nor could Hafiz Saeed himself, who rarely speaks to the media.

Pakistan has banned the LeT but its charity wings, the JUD and FIF had been operating.

Pakistani officials involved in the seizures of assets said failure to act against the charities could lead to Pakistan’s inclusion on the FATF watchlist. That would make it harder for foreigners to do business in the nuclear-armed South Asian nation.

Pakistan was on the FATF watchlist from 2012 to 2015.

Published in Daily Times, February 15th 2018.