The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is modified and extended.
Reports emerging from Pakistan says Hafiz Saeed is under house arrest in Lahore and the police is raiding his terror front Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) facilities, that operate under the garb of charity. In a video clip circulating in Pakistan’s social media circles, Hafiz Saeed can be seen ranting against India, the US with his favourite Kashmir rant. In the clip he says to his supporters that today’s developments will take him further to his goals.
Earlier in the day, a Dunya News report, quoting Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Interior, had said that Pakistan would tomorrow spell out the course of action it is going to take against Hafiz Saeed and JuD. Nisar said JuD which was declared a terrorist outfit by the US last year and was under observation in Pakistan since 2010. According to the Dunya News report, Pakistan is going to take action against Jamaat in line with the UN requirements. Now that Hafiz Saeed has put been under house arrest and a crackdown on JuD facilities is going on, let’s see what Pakistan comes with tomorrow.
In December 2008, UN Security Council, under its Resolution 1267, imposed sanctions on JuD and Hafiz Saeed for supporting Al Qaeda and Taliban. India had named Hafiz Saeed, LeT and JuD as the perpetrators of the series of terrorists attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. Since then it has been an unending drama of Hafiz Saeed being put under house arrest or detained cursorily before being set free even if the US declared a bounty of $10 million on his head in 2012.
Let alone Hafiz Saeed, all other names including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the Mumbai attacks mastermind or Masood Azhar, the Pathakot airbase attack mastermind or many others on India’s most wanted list, alleged for perpetrating countless terror acts in India, are free and even respected names in Pakistan. When international pressure demands, Pakistan does the routine sham of shielding behind its judicial process that had set Hafiz Saeed free of all terrorism charges in 2009.
It is not the first time that reports from Pakistan on banning JuD have come out. This is a regular spectacle, as recent as November 2016. Every time Pakistan clarifies that JuD has not been banned and as per the UN requirements, is under observation.
But this time, the crackdown on JuD and Hafiz Saeed has come out after the US warning that Pakistan could be added to the list of the banned countries on the US immigration list. Donald Trump administration has put a ban on immigrants from seven Muslim majority nations that are ‘most identifiable with dangerous terrorism taking place in their country’ – Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Sudan. Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff, has said that countries like Pakistan that are ‘having problems similar to those seven nations’, can be added to the list in future.
That may have set alarms bells ringing in Pakistan. Though Pakistan, a habitual offender, backstabber and master of doublespeak when it comes to using terror as a policy tool, cannot be trusted, even if its Interior Minister says that action on JuD was pending, a sense of panic can be seen when we see Hafiz Saeed’s Twitter feed and his video clip.
As Twitter doesn’t allow designated terrorists like Hafiz Saeed on its platform and blocks their Twitter accounts, they keep on changing their Twitter handles. @HMSaeedOfficial is one of the Twitter handles being used by Hafiz Saeed. Saeed tweeted today from this account, “We knew this would happen when we declared 2017 the year of #Kashmir. If I am arrested, millions will continue to raise voice for #Kashmir.”
We knew this would happen when we declared 2017 the year of #Kashmir. If I am arrested, millions will continue to raise voice for #Kashmir
If we are banned for raising voice for Kashmir, then we don’t care about any such ban or restrictions.
The recent reports of JuD Ban are due to Indian pressure. In case of any such ban, we will go to courts for justice
This can well be a strategy to garner support and pressurize the Pakistan’s government to prevent from taking any strong measure against the terror mastermind or can be, again, an elaborate sham in collusion with the Pakistan’s ruling establishment and the ISI to show the world that Pakistan, at last, is going to crackdown on terror, especially after the US warning of putting it on the immigration ban list. And if it is happening so now, it can well be the first in the series of sham crackdowns.
The first option looks more likely that Saeed may be made a scapegoat (remember the US bounty on Saeed) as Saeed initially deleted his tweet from @HMSaeedOfficial page. But after some hours, he again posted it along with other tweets that show his fear of being banned. Blaming India for reports on JuD ban, he wrote that If they were banned for raising voice for Kashmir, then they didn’t care about any such ban or restrictions and they would approach the court.
To add to Hafiz Saeed’s fear, Pakistan’s The News today published a report, which says that the US has clearly told Pakistan to act against JuD after JuD’s name prominently figured in the latest report of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering or else Pakistan would be put on the list of blacklisted countries in the International Cooperative Review Group (ICRG). That will make it necessary for Pakistan to put a formal request each time it goes about transacting any business through any of the international financial institutions.
This is an early January report, before Donald Trump’s took over as the US President and now that the most clear warning to Pakistan has come from Trump’s chief of staff, the writing looks clear on the wall for Pakistan. It is for Pakistan to decide which way it wants to go. Meanwhile, according the same The News report, Hafiz Saeed has adopted a new name for his outfit, Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir.