Tue, 26 Sep 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 28 (ANI): After Pakistan quietly sentenced the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack mastermind Sajid Mir this month, questions are being raised about what prompted this sudden decision.

Mir, a senior member of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is among India's most wanted for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. He was awarded 15 years in jail term by a Pakistan court this month. Mir was LeT's operations manager for the attacks, playing a leading role in their planning, preparation, and execution.

Mir, 44, was sentenced by an Anti-terrorism court in Lahore this month after convicting him in a terror-financing case. He was also fined Pkr 4,20,000 and is currently serving sentence in Kot Lakhpat jail, the Dawn newspaper reported citing a source.

His sentencing came as Pakistan is struggling to exit the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) terror-financing watchlist. Currently, Pakistan is on the 'Grey List' of the watchdog for not fulfilling the parameters to counter terrorism in the country.

Pakistan media reports said Mir's court verdict was done so quietly that no one came to know about such a high-profile case, except for a very brief report in one of the newspapers, which too could not attract the attention.

Writing for the InsideOver, Federico Giuliani said it is clear that only a combination of impending economic doom and tough posturing by international organisations like IMF, prodded by the US, has forced Pakistan to act against a terrorist known to be a key asset of the Pakistan Army.

"There ought to be a similar clarity in understanding that the arrest and sentencing of Mir is not a move by Pakistan to disassociate itself from terrorism but to extricate from greylisting of FATF, get IMF bailout loan and reset its relations with the US, all in one go," he added.

Giulian argued that Mir's arrest in April and sentencing in June were perfectly timed to persuade FATF to take Pakistan off the grey list.

The country has failed to take adequate steps to counter-terrorism and prosecute terrorists including masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai attacks such as Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) founder Masood Azhar and LeT's Sajid Mir, according to an earlier US report.

Pakistan made limited progress on the most difficult aspects of its 2015 National Action Plan to counter-terrorism, specifically in its pledge to dismantle all terrorist organizations without delay or discrimination, said the US State Department had said in its 2020 Country Reports on Terrorism.

The report recalled how in 2021, a Lahore anti-terrorism court convicted LeT founder Hafiz Saeed on multiple counts of terrorism financing and sentenced him to five years and six months in prison.

"Pakistan did not, however, take steps under its domestic authorities to prosecute other terrorist leaders residing in Pakistan, such as JeM founder Masood Azhar and LeT's Sajid Mir, mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks," it had said.

The report goes on the mention the effectiveness of Indian security agencies in disrupting terror threats, although gaps remain in interagency intelligence and information sharing. (ANI)

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