Washington: The U.S. administration has taken serious note of Pakistan permitting Jama’at-ud-Da’wah leader Hafiz Saeed, a terrorist wanted by the United States and with a bounty of USD 10 million on his head for information leading to his arrest and conviction for involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, to openly lead an anti-India rally of his supporters from Lahore to Islamabad on July 19.
Saeed led a Pakistan government call to observe July 19 as a “Black Day”, apparently to draw attention to the “burning issue of Kashmir “.
The Obama Administration has been taken aback by this event, as it clearly established a link between the Pakistan government and Hafiz Saeed who is on America’s most wanted list. The United States has designated Saeed-led organizations — the Laskkar e Toiba (LeT) and the Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) as foreign terrorist organisations. Hafiz Saeed has also been listed as a terrorist by the UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.
South Asia watchers in Washington say that by allowing a terrorist to take up a government sponsored cause, Islamabad has bared its selective approach towards terrorism. When banned outfits are allowed to openly hold rallies in Pakistan at the behest of the government, the allegations about Pakistan using terror as state policy appears to gain ground.
Experts say that had Pakistan banned Saeed from holding this rally, and instead placed someone else in charge of the July 19 protests, then that would have been understandable. The question that arises in the minds of South Asian analysts is why Saeed? Is it because he is a terror asset which the state cannot do without?
Experts have questioned is Saeed so important that Islamabad is risking an important relationship with the United States.
Pakistan’s irrevocable links with Saeed have disappointed the Obama Administration, but has not shocked officials. It was always known in Washington’s South Asia circles that Hafiz Saeed is an asset that the Pakistani state will always protect notwithstanding the fact that he is a designated global terrorist.
Saeed’s terror group, the LeT, remains active and open in Pakistan, and just recently, had the audacity to attack Medina in Saudi Arabia, in which 12 of its suspected members were arrested. This connection was also highlighted by a European Parliament Report by Vice President Ryszard Czarnecki, where he pointed out how the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), a charity front of the LeT was radicalising Pakistani Diaspora while the state was a mute spectator.
The Saeed-Pakistan linkage as evidenced by the July 19 Kashmir rally is certain to be brought up on Capitol Hill where proposals are afoot to cut financial aid to Pakistan in the absence of a complete and verifiable delinkage with terror groups.
While the Obama Administration has been supporting Pakistan as an important ally in the war against terror, this latest incident of July 19 where a wanted terrorist has been given state patronage is certain to raise questions and embarrass the former. (ANI)