WASHINGTON: The United States has welcomed Pakistan's decision to arrest four leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group, indicating that such measures would help improve relations between the two countries.
"We appreciate the news that Pakistan arrested four LeT leaders" said Assistant Secretary of State of the United States for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice G. Wells. "Victims of vicious LeT attacks deserve to see these people prosecuted now."
But in the same tweet, Ms. Wells also added the name of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed to the list of people Washington wants to punish for her alleged involvement in terrorist activities.
In another tweet, also published on Saturday afternoon, Wells referred to the recent commitment of Prime Minister Imran Khan to combat terrorism. "As Imran Khan said, Pakistan, for its own future, must prevent militant groups from operating in its territory," he wrote.
Law enforcement agencies announced Thursday that they arrested the "four main leaders" of the LeT banned group for terrorism financing charges, a measure they said would put the "full central leadership" of this team on trial.
Later, media reports identified the four leaders as Professor Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Mohammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam.
“LeT chief Hafiz Saeed is already in prison facing trial for committing terrorist financing crimes. Now all of his central leadership will be on trial, ”a spokesman for the Punjab Anti-Terrorism (CTD) Department told reporters in Lahore.
The arrests were announced days before a crucial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international agency that monitors global financial transactions. The meeting, which began in Paris on Saturday and will continue until October 15, will also review Pakistan's efforts to finance terrorism.
In June, the FATF placed Pakistan on a gray list of countries that must take immediate measures to eliminate terrorist financing. Since then, Pakistan has taken a series of measures to eradicate this threat, which will now be reviewed at the FATF Paris meeting.
Pakistan wants to avoid being blacklisted by the FATF, such as Iran and North Korea, as it would invoke severe economic sanctions, which could have a devastating impact on its economy in crisis.
The CTD statement says that Pakistani agencies have been investigating allegations that LeT leaders had built assets using funds raised through terrorist financing.
Posted on Dawn, October 14, 2019