Islamabad [Pakistan], January 7 (ANI): In a significant development, an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar on the charges of terror financing, sources said.
This comes ahead of meetings of the global watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in January and February, which will consider Pakistan's 'greylist' status.
"An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar on the charges of terror financing," sources told ANI.
Pakistan, who has long denied Azhar's presence in the country, seems to have acknowledged that the JeM chief is in its territory.
"In a significant development, under pressure from FATF, Pakistan has acknowledged Masood Azhar's presence on its territory," the sources added.
Azhar-led JeM is responsible for carrying out many attacks in India. Its terrorists attacked the Parliament building and Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly complex in 2001, killing nine and eight people respectively. Pathankot terror attack in 2016 and Pulmawa attack in February this year were also carried out by the JeM.
In 2019, the United Nations added Azhar to the United Nations 1267 ISIL and al-Qaeda Sanctions List.
Since the day of his designation by the United Nations as a "global terrorist" in May, Pakistan is reportedly keeping the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed underground, preventing him from giving speeches in mosques or releasing audiotapes.
In September, the Indian government had also listed Azhar under the new anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 1967.
In October, the FATF decided that Pakistan will continue to be on its greylist and asked it to continue to work on implementing an action plan to address its strategic deficiencies including demonstrating that its law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terrorist financing activity and demonstrating that prosecutions result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
Pakistan is on the FATF's grey list since June 2018 and the government was given a final warning in February 2020 to complete the 27 action points by June in the same year.
The FATF extended the June deadline to September due to the spread of coronavirus that disrupted the FATF plenary meetings.
Pakistan is facing the difficult task of clearing its name from the FATF grey list. As things stand, Islamabad is finding it difficult to shield terror perpetrators and implement the FATF action plan at the same time. (ANI)