Pakistan turns down visa request of UN team to interview Hafiz Saeed
Pakistan turned down the visa request of a UN team which wanted to interview Mumbai attack mastermind and JamaatudDawa chief Hafiz Saeed on his application for removing his name from the UNSC sanctions list, according to UN sources
New York:Pakistan turned down the visa request of a UN team which wanted to interview Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed on his application for removing his name from the UNSC sanctions list, according to UN sources.
Hafiz Saeed was listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008 after the Mumbai terror attack in which 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists killed 166 people. He was released from house arrest in Pakistan in November 2017.
A representative from the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN informed the UN Ombudsperson in October last year that no visa would be issued for their travel to Pakistan, UN sources told PTI.
The UN Ombudsperson reviews requests from UN designated individuals and entities to be removed from the UN Sanctions Committee listing.
Sources said the Pakistani representative had sought that the visit be postponed till the beginning of 2019 but the Ombudsperson had made it clear that such an extension for the travel could not be given due relevant UNSC provisions and an extension could be made only till late December 2018.
According to the relevant provisions, the UN Security Council had directed the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee to keep "under active review" its guidelines for placing, removing or granting exemptions to individuals and entities on its Al-Qaeda Sanctions List.
Pakistani officials failed to convey in time to the Ombudsperson regarding the travel to Pakistan after which the UN team sought a video conference with Saeed.
UN sources said that following the video interview, the UN Ombudsperson determined Saeed's name will not be removed from the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee listing.
They said that the Ombudsperson "analysed" all the information that had been gathered on the case and "provided observations", setting out for the Committee "the principal arguments" on Saeed's request for de-listing.
The sources added that the Ombudsperson determined that there is "sufficient information" available for the "current listing."
After analyzing and taking into consideration all the information on Saeed's case and his request for de-listing "in totality", the Ombudsperson recommended to the Sanctions Committee that Saeed's name should be retained in the Al-Qaeda Sanctions List.
The UN decision to reject appeal of Saeed, also the creator of LeT, came after India provided detailed evidence including "highly confidential information" about his activities, sources said.
Hafiz Saeed had filed an appeal with the UN through Lahore-based law firm Mirza and Mirza in 2017, while he was still under house arrest in Pakistan, for removal of the ban.
Independent Ombudsperson Daniel Kipfer Fasciati, appointed by the UN to examine all such requests, informed Hafiz Saeed's lawyer that it has been decided following examination of his request that that he will "continue as a listed individual", sources said.
The Ombudsperson recommended that after gathering all information, it has been decided to continue with the ban as "there was sufficient information to provide a reasonable and credible basis for continuing the listing," sources said, adding the recommendation was endorsed by the UN's Sanctions Committee.
Saeed's request was opposed by India as well as other countries that had originally listed him - US, UK and France, sources said.
Significantly, Pakistan did not oppose the appeal despite claims by the new Imran Khan-led government there that it was taking action against the banned terrorists and their organisations in what they call a ''Naya Pakistan''.
Notably, the decision comes at a time when UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee has received a new request to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist after the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Pakistan-based JeM has claimed responsibility for the strike.