Prominent Pakistani newspapers on Friday said there is a growing realisation within the government and security establishment that nurturing violent actors like Hafiz Saeed was a dangerous policy and the time has come to put an end to their activities.
Several dailies have hailed the 11-year sentence handed out to the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief in two terror financing cases by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore on Wednesday.
The verdict against Saeed and his close aide Zafar Iqbal comes four days ahead of the crucial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) from February 16 to 21 in Paris where Pakistan will present its case to get itself off the Grey List.
The Dawn newspaper in its editorial on Friday said: It is a major development as Pakistan tries to dismantle the active militant infrastructure.”
It said that there is a growing realisation in the government and security establishment that nurturing or ignoring such violent actors was a dangerous policy, and that the time had come to put an end to their activities.
“Using such proxies has brought nothing but problems for Pakistan, with the UN listing Saeed as a terrorist, the leading Pakistani daily said.
The paper said that LeT/JuD has also contributed to instability within the country.
This organisation (LeT/JuD) has maintained links with the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda, as well as with elements that evolved into the Punjabi Taliban. Considering these precedents, it can only be welcomed that Saeed has been sent to prison,” it said.
“While the mistakes of the past cannot be undone, a new course can surely be charted by ensuring that no armed groups espousing violence within or outside the country are allowed to operate in Pakistan.”
The News International writes: Sentencing Saeed has not been an easy task, as evidence and incontrovertible testimonies have been hard to come by. With weak prosecution and ill-prepared cases, Saeed and his alleged accomplices were unlikely to be found guilty as charged.”
We do not know how long he will remain behind bars this time round and how long it will be before Pakistan is asked to try him on the more serious terrorist allegations against him and the others accused of acting alongside him, it says.
The Express Tribune noted that the cases built against Saeed were strong.
Daily Times in its editorial said “The conviction of Saeed and his aide Iqbal is a corrective step, and this must continue until all other militant wings, accused of using Pakistani soil for their activities home and abroad, are dealt with according to the law.”
“The verdict will send positive vibes to the world. Conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes, and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing, it said.
Indian government sources in New Delhi on Thursday said the efficacy of Pakistan’s decision to send Saeed to jail remains to be seen as it came just days ahead of FATF’s review on Islamabad’s action against terror networks operating from the country.
The FATF in October last decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘Grey List’ for its failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups like LeT and JeM.
If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.