Pakistan begins seizing charities linked to US-wanted cleric
Amid increasing pressure from the international community, Pakistan yesterday began seizing assets and funds belonging to Islamic charities linked to a radical cleric wanted by the US, officials said.
It was the first step against Hafiz Saeed since he was freed by Pakistani authorities in November on a court order. He is the founder of the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
His release drew criticism from both Washington and neigh-bouring India at the time.
Pakistan's Interior Ministry issued a notification yesterday requiring authorities to immed-iately seize the assets of Saeed's Jamaat-ud-Dawa organisation and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa is believed to be a front for Lashker-e-Taiba. The United States has offered a $10 million reward for his arrest.
Saeed denies involvement in the Mumbai attacks and claims his charities are only under a UN watch list.
The move came a day after Pakistan's Cabinet approved new rules in an effort to tighten the noose around outlawed extremist and militant organisations and seize their financial assets. The step was taken after Pakistan issued an ordinance, amending a decades-old anti-terrorism law, to allow authorities to act against outlawed charities, groups or individuals listed by the UN Security Council.
Two government officials said they seized health facilities, schools and ambulances of two Saeed charities and renamed them instead of shutting them down. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to media on the record.