Amid global pressure, Pakistan designates Hafiz Saeed a terrorist
The move took place amid much discretion, triggering speculation that Pakistan has finally succumbed to global pressure.
This is a dramatic turn of events since less than a month ago, when PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi insisted there's no case against "Hafiz Saeed sahib."
Pakistan finally declares Hafiz Saeed a terrorist
A brief glimpse at Hafiz Saeed's terrorist activities
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a UN designated terrorist operating from Pakistan, is allegedly the co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, both of which have been declared terrorist organizations by the US.
US supports India's claims that Saeed is responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and has placed a $10mn bounty on him.
But despite severe allegations, he was released from 297-day house arrest in November.
US has been stepping up pressure for Pakistan to act
The US reacted sharply to his release, asking Pakistan to make the "right decision" and take action.
It also suspended more than $1.15bn in security assistance to the South Asian nation, saying Pakistan will get the funds if it shows visible anti-terror measures.
After Abbasi's "sahib" remark, the US stepped up the pressure, calling for Saeed's prosecution "to the fullest extent of law."
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Saeed responded with Rs 100mn defamation notice to Pakistan's crackdown
Amid the constant insistence, Pakistan announced hefty punishment and fines to those providing funds to 72 banned groups including Saeed's JuD.
Imprisonment can last up to 10 years and fines up to rupees 10mn, it warned.
But Saeed responded with a rupees 100mn legal notice to Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir for "defamation," warning him of "criminal proceedings under section 500 of Pakistan Penal Code."
Pakistan has now empowered authorities to act against UNSC-proscribed outfits
Pakistan has now moved an ordinance for amending the Anti-Terrorism Act to enable authorities to act against individuals and terror outfits banned by UNSC.
Sources said different ministries and departments, including the National Counter Terrorism Authority, were working on it.
After President Mamnoon Hussain's approval, authorities will now be able to seal offices or freeze bank accounts of such outfits.
Saeed is meanwhile preparing for the 2018 general elections
Meanwhile, Saeed is preparing to contest the 2018 general elections, and has launched a political party called the Milli Muslim League (MML).
Even before recognition by the election commission, MML contested by-elections in Lahore and Peshawar and diverted votes from the ruling PML-N.
If such parties which have fought for Kashmir's "independence" win power, efforts at improving relations with India might be hit.