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Snubbed by Saudi Arabia, Pakistan tightens noose around terrorists
Islamabad/New Delhi, August 22, 2020
After a major snub from the leader of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Saudi Arabia, the Imran Khan government in Pakistan on Saturday once again claimed that it is cracking down on its terror groups operating against India.
Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday released a list of 88 members of terrorist groups on which it has purportedly imposed more restrictions.
Apart from others, the list includes underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief and mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks Hafiz Saeed and Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, who have for long been perpetrating terror attacks against India.
Besides, the list also reconfirmed that Dawood, one of India's most wanted men responsible for the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and several other terror attacks, lives in Karachi at the White House near Saudi mosque, Clifton.
He also owns other properties such as House Number 37 and 30th Street, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, and a palatial bungalow in the hilly area of Noorabad in Karachi.
In two notifications issued on August 18, the Pakistani government ordered financial sanctions on the terrorists which include seizure of all of their properties and freezing of their bank accounts.
Though Islamabad has in the past several times claimed to have imposed restrictions on most of the listed terrorists, the latest move comes amid a serious economic and financial crisis.
With its coffers almost empty, Pakistan had borrowed $6.2 billion loan from Saudi Arabia in 2018. The loan package included a provision under which Saudi Arabia granted Pakistan $3.2 billion worth of oil, a year on deferred payments. But Saudi Arabia halted the provision of oil on loan for Pakistan after the Imran Khan government threatened to split the OIC over Kashmir.
The Pakistan Army has attempted to invade Indian Kashmir four times in the last seven decades and has been waging a proxy war (cross-border terrorism) against India for the last three decades.
Since August last year, when India revoked the special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and brought it directly under the control of the Central government, the Imran Khan government has been seeking support in its favour, from the 57-member OIC, the biggest bloc of Islamic countries in the world.
However, India-Saudi Arabia relations under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) have strengthened, much to the dismay of Pakistan.
As a result, Saudi Arabia refused to convene a foreign ministers' meeting on Kashmir. The Imran Khan government ruined the Saudi-Pakistan relationship further by threatening to split the OIC over the issue.
The threat irked MBS so much that he rebuffed General Qamar Javed Bajwa who had visited Saudi Arabia earlier this week to mend the differences.
The deterioration in the bilateral relations has worsened Pakistan's financial situation while it is already under tremendous pressure from the terror-funding watchdog, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has put the country on the grey list since June 2018.
To get off the list, Pakistan needs to show that it is complying with the conditions and cracking down on terror groups.
With no financial reprieve from Saudi Arabia and mounting pressure from the FATF, Pakistan in its latest notifications has claimed that it has seized funds and other financial assets or economic resources of terror groups.
It has also prohibited donations in the form of funds, economic resources, financial assets, or other related services.
Lastly, it has restricted the travel of the listed terrorist group leaders and members at a time when global travel is already at its lowest due to the coronavirus pandemic.