The charges lodged on Hafiz Saeed and 12 other leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) of terror financing and money laundering is a step in the right direction on many counts, primary among them being that a proscribed organisation can no longer use charity work as a cover for participating in acts of terrorism. Any institution, political or otherwise, that advocates the use of violence to achieve its goals, should not be permitted to execute its ideas. JuD supporters have long denied the party’s involvement in any acts of terror, but as a proscribed organisation by both the US and UN, it is positive that Pakistan has expedited the protracted process and finally moved in the right direction. One can only hope that the arrests will be made immediately to avoid any threat of absconders.

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police have taken a few months to file the FIRs – the Prime Minister chaired a Cabinet meeting regarding this matter in January – but it is hoped that this time was spent making airtight cases against the accused. We have seen JuD leaders previously being detained or put under house arrest at crucial moments of dialogue with other states, only to be released when international pressure surrounding the issue dials down. The reports however, of substantial evidence found and properties and assets confiscated are promising and if convicted, the efforts of CTD must be commended.

Of course, any tangible steps to bring JuD leaders to justice would be welcomed in India and might even bring the reluctant neighbour to the negotiation table, but the real prize here would be an improvement of ties with western nations. Prime Minister Modi’s government in India has at the very least, moved on from its constant sabre-rattling before the general elections, but has not responded positively to improved ties over the last term either; if this doesn’t move the other side to consider dialogue, other countries at the very least can appreciate Pakistan’s sincerity in curbing all forms of terrorism.

With the recent visit of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to the UK and the impending visit of the Prime Minister to meet President Trump, there seems to be a backchannel of communication between the UK, US and Pakistan. The US government’s decision to proscribe the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the CTD arrest before a formal sit down between the leaders of the two countries reflects an attempt by both sides to smoothen out any long-standing issues. The Pakistan state is making the right decisions in approaching the situation with western countries and extremists in its own backyard; one can only hope that we see it through on this occasion.