US un­happy over Pak­istan al­low­ing Hafiz Saeed's anti-in­dia rally

The Northlines - - FRONT PAGE - NL Cor­re­spon­dent

The US ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken a se­ri­ous note of Pak­istan per­mit­ting Jama'atud-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 an­tiIn­dia 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 "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 Saee­dled or­gan­i­sa­tions--the Lashkar-e-toiba (LET) and the Jama'at-ud-da'wah (JUD) as for­eign ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions. 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 ap­pear to gain ground.

Ex­perts say that had Pak­istan banned Saeed from hold­ing the rally, and in­stead placed some­one else in charge of the July 19 protests, 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 have not shocked of­fi­cials. It was al­ways known in Wash­ing­ton's South Asia cir­cles that 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-eIn­saniyat Foundation (FIF), a char­ity front of the LET, was rad­i­cal­iz­ing 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, the lat­est in­ci­dent where a wanted ter­ror­ist has been given state pa­tron­age is cer­tain to raise ques­tions and em­bar­rass the for­mer.

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