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Pakistan draws up smokescreen again, ‘arrests’ LeT commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi ahead of FATF meeting

It is understood that the so-called arrest of the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Lakhvi is just another eyewash by the Pakistani government to dodge global terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force's (FATF's) Blacklisting rather than to bring to justice the LeT commander for the 2008 attacks that left 166 dead.

Ahead of meetings of the global watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in January and February, the terror-state of Pakistan has arrested Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi on charges of using terror funds.

According to the reports, nearly five years after he was released on bail in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Pakistan has picked up Lashkar terrorist and commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi on charges for orchestrating terrorist acts.

“Following an intelligence-based operation conducted by the CTD Punjab, proscribed organisation LeT leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was arrested on charges of terrorism financing,” said the Counter-Terrorism Department police adding that the 61-year-old terrorist was arrested in a case of terrorism financing registered in a police station of CTD Lahore.

“Lakhvi is accused of running a dispensary, using funds collected for terrorism financing. He and others also collected funds from this dispensary and used these funds for further terrorism financing. He also used these funds for personal expenses,” the CTD said.

The CTD said that in addition to belonging to proscribed organisation LeT, Lakhvi is also an UN-designated individual. His trial will be held before the Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore, the CTD added.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was designated a terrorist on December 10, 2008, by the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee for directing the LeT operations in Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and south-east Asia. After the Mumbai attacks on November 2008, the Pakistani authorities had arrested Lakhvi for training and directing 10 terrorists to carry out attacks in Mumbai that left 166 people dead. However, he was granted bail by the Lahore High Court in April 2015.

Meanwhile, it is understood that the so-called arrest of the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Lakhvi is just another eyewash by the Pakistani government to dodge global terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) Blacklisting rather than to bring to justice the LeT commander for the 2008 attacks that left 166 dead.

Arrests of terrorists ahead of FATF session is just an eyewash by Pakistan

It had now become a routine exercise for Pakistan to orchestrating such arrests of key terrorists just before FATF meetings.

In July 2019, three months before the FATF plenary session in which Pakistan almost feared of getting downgraded to the ‘blacklist’, had arrested LeT founder Hafiz Saeed as to show that they are acting on terror. The FATF session had, however, retained Pakistan in the greylist despite failing to complete a 27-point action plan to curb terrorism financing and money laundering.

It had also registered fake FIRs against the terror groups that they have been safeguarding for all this while to mislead the global community ahead of the global meeting.

In October again, the ‘top four leaders’ of the banned LeT/JuD were arrested on charges of terrorism financing ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s crucial plenary meeting scheduled to be held in Paris that year.

In addition to that, it was revealed that Pakistan had also silently removed the names of almost 4,000 terrorists from its terror watchlist. The terror-state had removed names of LeT leader and Mumbai attack mastermind Zakir ur Rehman Lakhvi and many others to evade the international scrutiny over funding terror.

Again this year in August, ahead of the FATA plenary session, Pakistan had tried the same tactic by imposing tough financial sanctions on 88 banned terror groups and their leaders, including Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim, by ordering the seizure of all of their properties and freezing of bank accounts.

In its previous plenary session in October 2020, the 39-member FATF had decided to give Pakistan three months more to complete the action plan even after the terror-state has failed to comply 6 out of 27 points in FATF’s action plan. Pakistan will be kept in the grey list for FATF till February 2021.

Pakistan, over the years, has managed to keep itself out of the FATF blacklist with the diplomatic support of countries like China, Turkey, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and few other Middle East countries. However, because it has not managed to garner enough support, it has not been able to get out of the grey list.

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