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Pak anti-terrorism court docks Masood Azhar ahead of FATF meet

An anti-terrorism court has issued an arrest warrant against terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar on terror financing charges on Thursday in Pakistan.

The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Gujranwala announced the order while hearing a terror-financing case instituted by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police against some JeM members.

"ATC Gujranwala judge Natasha Naseem Supra issued an arrest warrant for Masood Azhar and directed the CTD to arrest him and present him in the court. The CTD told the judge the JeM chief was involved in terror financing and selling jihadi literature," an official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

It is believed that Azhar is hiding in a "safe place" in his hometown Bahawalpur.

Faced with the possibility of being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Pakistani authorities had earlier arrested Mumbai attack kingpin and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operations commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

Lakhvi has been accused of being involved in terror financing — a prime concern of the FATF, which has asked Pakistan to take concrete and verifiable action against terror kingpins. In case Islamabad fails to comply, it can be blacklisted, implying that its access to international funding would be severely restricted, further sliding the country in the direction of becoming a “failed state.”

Lakhvi was arrested in a case of terrorism financing registered by the CTD Punjab in Police Station CTD Lahore. He is accused of running a dispensary using funds collected for terrorism financing. He and others also collected funds from this dispensary and used these funds for further terrorism financing. He also used these funds for personal expenses.