Indictment postponed for alleged Mumbai attacks' mastermind

Chief of the proscribed Jamaat-ud-Dawa organization Hafiz Saeed is taken to an Anti-Terrorism Court in Lahore on Dec. 7, 2019. (Supplied)
Updated 07 December 2019

Indictment postponed for alleged Mumbai attacks' mastermind

  • JUD chief's indictment on terror financing charges will now take place on Dec. 11
  • Pakistan is striving to convince FATF it is doing its best to curb illicit financial flows

LAHORE: An Anti-Terrorism Court on Saturday could not indict Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the proscribed Jamaat-ud-Dawa organization, since one of his co-accused, Hafiz Zafar Iqbal, could not be brought before the judge by the authorities.
Saeed’s indictment on terror financing charges was expected on December 7, but the court adjourned the case against him after instructing the authorities to produce all accused individuals on the next hearing.
“Hafiz Saeed was produced before the court but the proceedings were adjourned till December 11,” his lawyer, Imran Fazal Gill, told Arab News. “The prosecution had not attached scrutiny report with the challan. The co-accused, Hafiz Zafar Iqbal, could not be produced in the court since he had to attend the proceedings of another case in Gujranwala. That deferred the indictment process.
Saeed was brought to the court amidt high security from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail. It is worth mentioning that the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police has registered 23 complaints against the JuD chief and his accomplices on terror financing charges in various cities of the province.
According to the authorities, Saeed collected funds using various trusts and non-profit organizations to finance terrorism. Under pressure from the international community, Pakistan has been probing JuD and its affiliate organizations.
Saeed is accused of being the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that claimed about 160 lives in India’s commercial capital. The United Nations Security Council, through a resolution, put sanctions on his organization and declared its office bearers as terrorists.
Implementing the UN resolution, Prime Minister Imran Khan recently directed the authorities to implement the National Action Plan while chairing the National Security Committee’s meeting. Subsequently, investigations were launched against Saeed and his fellows.
The government also took over the religious seminaries and schools run by the trusts operated by Saeed and the JuD.
Pakistan is striving to come out of the FATF grey list and has told the global watchdog that it is doing everything to curb money laundering and terror financing.

'Golden hand': Meet the Pakistani artist who has spent a lifetime painting UAE royals

Updated 59 min 29 sec ago

'Golden hand': Meet the Pakistani artist who has spent a lifetime painting UAE royals

  • Liaquat Ali Khan went to the United Arab Emirates as a daily wage laborer but acquired the reputation of a skillful artist
  • He has now returned to Pakistan and set up an art academy in his hometown of Kohat

KOHAT: Four decades ago, a man traveled from Kohat in northwestern Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates in search of a better life. He was part of a group of daily wage laborers, all of them from poor families and looking for better prospects.

But one thing set Liaquat Ali Khan apart: his passion for art, which would go on to change the course of his life.

“I went to watch a Pashto film in Abu Dhabi,” Khan, now 70, told Arab News at his office in Kohat, recalling his time in the UAE in the early eighties. “On stepping out of the cinema, I saw a man who was struggling to paint a billboard. I walked up to him and volunteered to help.”

As Khan painted, another man, a bank executive, observed him for a while and then walked up to him and struck a conversation. The man wanted to know if the painter could draw portraits. He said yes. A few days later, the banker took Khan to see his boss, who commissioned a portrait of UAE’s founding father and then ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to be unveiled on UAE’s national day. 

An undated photo of Liaquat Ali Khan, a Pakistani artist, seen posing in front of a portrait he made of UAE's founding father and then ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Photo courtesy Liaquat Ali Khan)

That moment marked a new beginning for Khan, who had a degree in fine arts from the University of Peshawar but never thought he could have a career as an artist. But his first portrait landed him a job with the Abu Dhabi Municipality where he went on to work for 29 years.

“I adorned my canvas with UAE royals and painted over a thousand portraits,” said Khan whose work has been displayed in public parks and along major thoroughfares in Abu Dhabi ahead of the UAE national day, celebrated each year on December 2.

Emirati officials also bestowed on him the title of “golden hand” as his reputation as an artist spread.

Liaquat Ali Khan, a Pakistani artist, writes an Urdu inscription at his office in Kohat, Pakistan on December 1, 2020. (AN Photo)

“Over a period of time, officials and locals began to recognize me through my work and started calling me the golden hand,“Khan said. “But it was a huge portrait of Sheikh Zayed that captured the attention of the royal family.”

In 1999, he was invited to meet the UAE ruler himself. 

“He was clearly interested in the world of art and knew a lot about it,” Khan said. 

Ten years after his meeting with Al Nahyan, Khan returned to Pakistan — not an ‘easy decision,’ he said — where he began teaching art at Kohat University. He also set up an art academy in his native town, where 17 students, both boys and girls, are currently studying.

Students of Liaquat Ali Khan, a Pakistani artist, seen practicing calligraphy at his art academy in Kohat, Pakistan, on December 1, 2020. (AN Photo)

“Creativity and art have brought me closer to nature and I am focused more on them than ever before,” said Omar Shahid, a second-year medical student who took up drawing as a hobby and joined the academy about a year ago.

Today, Khan says he is proud of his journey. The walls of his office in the art academy are decorated with photographs and shields. Some of the photos capture his interactions with high-profile Pakistani personalities such as former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf and ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

The artist said he had also completed a 500-piece portrait of Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and requested Musharraf to display it at Jinnah’s mausoleum. He smiled as he said he had no idea where that work had disappeared.

“He [Musharraf] agreed and instructed officials [to display the Jinnah portrait at his tomb],” Khan said. “But the painting has disappeared. It’s probably gathering dust in some government storage facility.”