WASHINGTON - The United States on Thursday welcomed the conviction of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed on the charges of terror financing one day after he was sentenced to 11 years in jail by an anti terrorism court in Lahore.

US Chief Diplomat for South Asian affairs Alice Wells commended the steps taken by Pakistan to combat terror financing and pointed out that this was in line with what Prime Minister Imran Khan had said. “The conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward — both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing,” Wells said in a statement after the verdict.

“And as Imran Khan has said, it is in the interest of Pakistan’s future that it not allow non-state actors to operate from its soil,” she added. The Lahore ATC Wednesday convicted Saeed and his associate Malik Zafar Iqbal on terror charges.

Iqbal, a close aide of Saeed, was also sentenced to five and a half years each in both cases. He was the secretary of the Al-Anfaal Trust, also run by the JuD. The convicts were facing Sections 11-F(2) , 11-N, 11-H, 11-K of Anti-terrorism Act in both FIRs.

The court awarded six months jail to Saeed and Zafar under 11-F (2) ATA (being a member of a banned outfit and supporting and arranging meetings of a proscribed organisation) in FIR no 30/2019 registered by the CTD Lahore. In the same FIR, the convicts were awarded five-year jail term under Section 11-N ATA (money laundering, illegal fundraising and buying properties from raised funds).

Both the sentences would run concurrently and the convicts have been given benefit of Section 382-B of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This means that both convicts will have to undergo only five and a half years jail term and the time of their jail term will start from the date of arrest.