ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office on Monday rejected a report in Pakistani media that the government had restored the bank accounts of Hafiz Saeed, accused by India and the United States of masterminding the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, as well as four aides.
Saeed was jailed for 11 years this February on terrorism funding charges, the first high profile figure to be convicted on such charges in Pakistan, which denies accusations that it shelters or aids militants.
Amid pressure from a world financial watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to take action against militant groups allegedly connected to Saeed, Pakistan also charged him in December with collecting funds for his organizations, which are listed as terrorist organizations by the United Nations. Saeed has pleaded not guilty.
In 2019, Pakistan also banned two charities run by Saeed as part of government steps to comply with FATF requirements.
“The story published in an English language newspaper on 12 July 2020 about the restoration of bank accounts of UN Designated Persons is factually incorrect and misleading,” the foreign office said in a statement. “The bank accounts belonging to the UN Designated Persons have not been unfrozen by Pakistan.”
On Sunday, Pakistan’s The News, an English language daily, had said the accounts of Saeed and four associates, Abdul Salam Bhuttavi, Hajji M Ashraf , Yahya Mujahid and Zafar Iqbal, had been “restored after formal approval from UN sanctions committee.”
However, the foreign office has said the financial sanctions on Saeed and his aides, including freezing their bank accounts, remained in place and were being strictly monitored by Pakistani authorities in compliance with UN sanctions.
The UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee had granted “basic expense exemptions” to the designated individuals in 2019, the foreign office said, in accordance with exemption provisions of the relevant UNSC resolutions provided for in the relevant UNSC resolutions.
“The exemptions were granted to allow these individuals to meet their basic expenses and do not involve any restoration or unfreezing of the bank accounts. These exemptions are being enforced and monitored as per law,” the foreign office said.