May 2017 News

Hafiz Saeed Spreading Terrorism In Name Of Jihad: Pak Govt

14 May 2017
Times of India

Lahore: In what could be the first official admission by the Pakistan government that Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed is involved in terrorist activities - he is named by India as the 26-11 mastermind - its interior ministry told a judicial board that Saeed and his aides were spreading terrorism in the name of jihad. An official representing the Nawaz Sharif government, arguing before the judicial review board that was formed to review the detention of Saeed and four of his aides under an anti-terror Act, countered the Lashkar chief 's claim that he was being prevented from raising the Kashmir issue. According to a PTI report, the Pakistan government informed the review board: 'The government detained the Jamaat-ud-Dawa leaders on pressure of United Nations (sic) and international organisations.' The official told the board that Saeed was 'spreading terrorism in the name of jihad'. The admission of the terror links of Saeed, who doubles up as chief of the JuD, allegedly a charitable organisation that acts as Lashkar's political front, is a rare instance of Pakistan endorsing New Delhi's stand that the LeT has carried out several terrorist strikes in India. The Pakistan government's decision to name Saeed for terrorism is significant as the LeT boss is seen as a key asset and ally of the Pakistani army which helps in training and launching LeT terrorists across the LoC into J&K. Saeed echoed Pakistan's stand in discussions with India when he told the board that allegations against him were never proved by any state institution. He said he was being victimised for raising voice for 'freedom of Kashmir and criticising the government's weak policy'. But the official position slamming him for terror in the guise of jihad can also reflect political tensions between the Sharif regime and the Pakistan army on use and support to terrorist organisations. LeT camps in POK are often close to army establishments and crossings of LeT into J&K are frequently assisted by covering fire. The symbiotic relationship between Saeed and Pakistan army has ensured that LeTdid not attack targets in Pakistan. Though it shares a belief in radical Islamic ideology with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, it does not see the Pakistan army as an 'apostate force' for being 'US collaborators' and supporting an allegedly un-Islamic government in Islamabad. The admission before the judicial review board comes as the Punjab government further extended Saeed's detention for 90 days. The detention is not seen as particularly harsh as Saeed has often been under loose house arrest and continues to meet and direct his followers. He has been addressing his cadre and on occasion spoken to Lashkar supporters in J&K over mobile phones. Yet, the official position naming him as involved in terrorism could also point to faultlines between the Sharif government and the army.