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US calls conviction of Hafiz Saeed ‘important step forward’

The United States on Thursday welcomed the conviction of proscribed Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed by an anti-terrorism court on terrorism charges.

A day earlier, the ATC in Lahore had sentenced Hafiz Saeed for five years and six months in two cases, along with a fine of Rs15,000 in each case.

In a series of tweets, United States chief diplomat for South Asian affairs Alice Wells commended the steps taken by Pakistan to combat terror financing and pointed out that it matched Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision.

Calling it an a ‘step forward’, Wells said that it was important for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments.

“The 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,” Wells said in a statement after the verdict.

“And as Imran Khan has said, it is in the interest of Pakistan’s future that it not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil,” the US diplomat added.

Saeed has been sentenced for five-and-a-half years in each case and the court has stated that both the sentences will begin concurrently.

The JuD chief’s lawyer told AFP that his client was found guilty of “being part of a banned terrorist outfit” and for “having illegal property”.

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The cases against the JuD chief were led by Deputy Prosecutor General Abdul Rauf Watto and around 23 witnesses recorded their statements in the cases.

Saeed was arrested by Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in July last year.

The arrest was part of the Government of Pakistan’s crackdown against outlawed organisations under the National Action Plan.

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