Pakistan tightening noose on Hafiz Saeed and Jamat-ud-dawa : Is it the beginning of a new Pakistan ?

The past few days have witnessed a remarkable shift in the policy of Pakistan vis-à-vis Hafiz Saeed, the head of Jamat-ud-dawa and mastermind of the deadly 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. The country’s leadership which considered Hafiz Saeed as a ‘respectable’ citizen of Pakistan until a few months ago has started to tighten the noose around him. It all started with Pakistan government putting Hafiz Saeed under house arrest earlier this year. Soon after he was put under house arrest, video of Hafiz Saeed went viral, in which he was blaming pressure from USA and India on Pakistan government behind his arrest. Since his house arrest, Pakistan government has taken many strong steps against Hafiz Saeed, which were also praised by the Indian government yesterday.

After his house arrest, an FIR was filed against Hafiz Saeed by the government. Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah said, “We’re monitoring the activities of Jamat-ud-dawa workers. More activists will be detained under the fourth schedule of the anti-terrorism law. We won’t compromise on our national interest.” The action of Pakistan government against Hafiz Saeed and JuD draw strong response from other terror groups operating in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. However, Pakistan has rightfully continued to tighten the noose around Mumbai attacks mastermind and his group JuD. In its pursuit against crackdown on terror groups, Pakistan put Hafiz Saeed and 38 others on Exit Control list, which means they cannot exit the country.

The Interior ministry (equivalent to home ministry of India) forwarded a letter to all provincial (state) governments and the Federal Investigation Agency, which included names of 38 individuals placed on the list, preventing them from leaving the country. All of them were said to be linked with JuD or Lashkar-e-Taiba. “The ministry has placed Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and Jamaat-Ud-Dawa (JUD) on the Watch List as per UNSC 1267 Sanctions and have listed these organisations in the Second Schedule of the ATA 1997 (as amended). Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Niaz are reportedly active members of the aforementioned organisations within the meaning of Section 11EEE(1) of the ATA 1997 (as amended),” read a notification issued by the ministry.

In a yet another significant and a much needed step for a logical crackdown on terrorism, Pakistan government has finally declared Hafiz Saeed a terrorist, and listed Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and four other members of his Jamaat-ud Dawa under the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terror Act. The report said the federal home ministry directed the counter-terrorism department (CTD) to “move and take necessary action” against them. Pakistan government has formally declared Hafiz Saeed a terrorist, which is a marked departure from its earlier stand of protecting Saeed and his organisation. “Both JuD and FIF are engaged in certain activities which could be prejudicial to peace and security and in violation of Pakistan’s obligations to the United Nations Security Council Resolution and both organisations have been placed in the Second Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

Today, the Pakistan government took another set of much needed action against Hafiz Saeed and his aides. The government cancelled licences of 44 weapons issued to JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and other members of his organisations. An official of the Punjab Home Department said the step has been taken in line with the government’s action against Saeed and his organisations – the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falaha-e-Insanyat (FIF). “The Punjab home department cancelled licences of 44 weapons for security reasons,” the official said today. Pakistan defence minister Khwaja Asif, in a conference in Munich (Germany) used strong words against Hafiz Saeed calling him a threat to Pakistan. “Hafiz Saeed poses a serious threat to society and has been arrested in the larger national interest,” the defence minister had said.

The reasons behind Pakistan’s strong action against Hafiz Saeed, his organisation JuD and other aides seem to be immense pressure on Pakistan government from the Trump administration. Couple with the US-Indo pressure on Pakistan, back-to-back terror attacks in Pakistan have led people in Pakistan to raise voice against terrorism, which has brought the government of Pakistan under severe pressure. Yesterday, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop also welcomed the steps taken by Pakistan against Hafiz Saeed. “Effective action mandated internationally against him and his terrorist organisations and colleagues is a logical first step in bringing them to justice, and in ridding our region of the twin menaces of terrorism and violent extremism,” the ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said yesterday.

We appreciate Pakistan’s steps taken to fight terrorism and hope it is sincere in the war against terrorism, and the steps initiated are taken to their logical conclusion.

Kshitij Mohan