Friday, March 15News That Matters

Pakistan lists Lashkar founder Hafiz Saeed under anti-terrorism act: Here’s what it means

Pakistani authorities on Saturday listed Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and four of his aides under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act, imposing further restrictions on his movements and ability to speak to the media.

Saeed and his aides, who were placed in “preventive detention” or house arrest on January 30, were listed under the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act by the government of Punjab province, Pakistani media reported.

According to Section 11EE of the act, persons who are involved in terrorism, members of an organisation that is banned or on the interior ministry’s watch list or suspected to be involved with a group involved in terrorism can be included in the Fourth Schedule.

Saeed currently heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, which has not been banned but is on the watch list. The US and the UN Security Council have already declared the JuD and its sister organisation, the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, as fronts for the LeT.

The Express Tribune quoted an unnamed official of the Punjab home department as saying that action was taken against Saeed and his aides as they are “active members” of the JuD and FIF. A senior police officer told the Dawn newspaper that the Counter-Terrorism Department added their names to the Fourth Schedule on the orders of the federal interior ministry.

The Fourth Schedule imposes a wide range of restrictions on the movements and activities of a listed person. Such a person is not allowed to visit schools, colleges and other educational institutions, parks, hotels and public places, airports, railway stations, TV and radio stations or attend public rallies and meetings.

Under the provisions of this schedule, authorities can probe the assets and sources of income of the listed persons and their families to ascertain whether the assets are legitimate. These restrictions can be applicable for a maximum of three years.

Besides Saeed, the other JuD and FIF members against whom action has been taken are Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Kashif Niazi. Saeed and 37 others have also been barred from travelling abroad as they were included in the interior ministry’s Exit Control List.

Saeed and his aides have challenged their inclusion in the Exit Control List. The JuD has also said it will mount a legal challenge to his house arrest.

This powerful army has backed Saeed’s detention, saying it was a policy decision taken in the national interest.

Saeed was also put under house arrest after the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, but he was freed within six months on the orders of the Lahore high court.

Critics have also pointed out that the interior ministry has done little to fully enforce the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act. A list of persons included in the Fourth Schedule that was drawn up by the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) last year contained the names of several persons who were dead or had even left Pakistan.

Leaders of the banned Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat included in the Fourth Schedule have attended rallies and even gone for the Haj pilgrimage.

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