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Report: Pakistan Planning Takeover Of Charities Run By Islamist Figure

Hafiz Saeed speaks after his release from house arrest in Lahore on November 22.
Hafiz Saeed speaks after his release from house arrest in Lahore on November 22.

The Pakistani government has plans to seize control of charities and financial assets that are connected to an Islamist leader that the United States considers a terrorist, according to Reuters.

Pakistan's government detailed the plans to freeze assets and take control of charities run by Hafiz Saeed in a covert order to provincial and federal government departments on December 19, three officials who attended high-level meetings about the crackdown told Reuters.

A Finance Ministry document dated December 19 directed law enforcement officials and governments in Pakistan's five provinces to submit a plan whereby they would seize Saeed's two charity organizations -- Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation.

The plans were to be submitted to the Finance Ministry by December 28.

Washington considers JuD and FIF to be "terrorist fronts" for Lashkar-e Taiba, a group Saeed founded in 1987 and which the United States and India blame for the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Saeed has denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks and he was found innocent of involvement when he was tried in a Pakistani court.

The proposed action by the Pakistani government comes after the FATF, an international body that fights against money laundering and groups that are financed by terrorists, warned Islamabad that it could be added to a watch list for failing to crack down on terrorist groups.

Additionally, a UN Security Council team is due to visit Pakistan later this month to review progress against UN-designated "terrorist" groups.

Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who served as a co-chair for meetings about the crackdown plans, told Reuters he has ordered authorities "to choke the fund-raising of all proscribed outfits in Pakistan."

But he added that "we're not pleasing anyone" but rather "working as a responsible nation to fulfill our obligations to our people and [the] international community."

Saeed -- who has denied having ties to militant organizations -- could not be reached for comment. His network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house, and ambulance services.

In November, a Pakistani court released Saeed from house arrest, which he had been put under by the Punjab provincial government for violating antiterrorism laws.

With reporting by Reuters and TNN
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