By Ashok Handoo
Founder of LeT and the head of Jamat-ud Dawa and the mastermind of Mumbai attack Hafiz Sayeed has been put under house arrest for 90 days in Pakistan. He faced such arrests earlier also only to be released to carry on with his nefarious terrorist activities against India and other neighbouring countries. One wonders how long will he remain in house arrest this time. Interestingly, he has never faced a formal criminal prosecution and no FIR has been registered against him even now. More on it later.
China, which has a known anti-Islamist track record at home, has blocked the way to designate another dreaded terrorist Masood Azhar – the head of Jaish-e-Mohammad and mastermind of attack on Indian Parliament and more recently on the Pathankot airbase -as a global terrorist. It voted against a joint proposal to this effect by the US, England and France at the UN General Assembly saying the “conditions” have not been met for taking such a step and there is no consensus on the issue. The proposal therefore continues to be on technical hold;r China vetoed an Indian proposal to this effect last year as well.
New Delhi has now lodged a formal protest with China and handed over a demarche to the Chinese Embassy over blocking the US proposal backed by UK and France. The argument put forward by China that there is no conclusive evidence of Masood Azhar’s involvement in Pathankot Airbase attack loses all its steam after the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif admitted to such a role months ago. It may be recalled that Azahra’s outfit Jaish-e- Mohammad is a banned organization in Pakistan and the UN too has declared it as a global terror outfit. Why is then China blocking the way to designate its head Azhar Masood as a global terrorist which could lead to impose sanctions against him?
Having picked up lot many stakes in Pakistan particularly the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Beijing is too keen to be on the side of Pakistan even at the cost of adopting a dual policy with regard to dealing with terrorism.
The house arrest of Hafiz Saeed has come about after the warnings and the action on ground by the US president Donald Trump against countries involved in terrorist activities. Though Pakistan has not yet been included in the list of 7 Muslim majority countries on which travel ban had been imposed, the US president has made it clear that the list could be extended to other countries, if they don’t fall in line to fight against terrorism sincerely.
Pakistan has given no reasons for putting Saeed under house arrest except saying that the action has been taken in “national interest”. The Punjab Home department notification said that both Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and his other outfit Falah-I Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) are engaged in activities which could be prejudicial to peace and security and in violation of Pakistan’s obligations to UN Security Council resolution 1267 under which Hafiz Sayeed has been sanctioned. According to the notification the action has been taken under the anti- terrorism Act. Punjab’s Law minister Rana Sannaullh even contradicted Hafiz Sayeed’s Kashmir policy saying it is completely different from that of Nawaz Sharif government.
Islamabad is also facing pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body formed by G-7 group in 1989 to overlook money laundering and terrorism financing. It has pointed out several shortcomings in Pakistan’s legislation and practices against money laundering and terrorism financing. The house arrest could be an attempt to claim action by Islamabad in its compliance report to the Task Force so that it remain on the white list and not slip into grey or negative zones.
But a week before his house arrest Hafiz Saeed had given enough indications about launching a new outfit Tehrik-e Azadi-e- Kashmir and his impending arrest which proves that he had already a wind of the action being taken against him and that he enjoyed the continued support of the army and the civil government.
True to his pattern, Hafiz Saeed changed the name of his organization yet again to Tehrik-e Azadi-e- Kashmir to circumvent any possible action against him and his outfits. When the LeT that he founded was declared an international terrorist organization, he changed its name to Jamaat-u Dawa and then to Falah-i-Insaniyat foundation (FIF).
But how long can Pakistan pull wool over the eyes of world community? It has been doing so for several decades, even while being an ally with the US in the fight against terrorism. Islamabad has to realize that enough is enough and it cannot hoodwink the international community anymore. India and the world community want concrete and credible action. Pakistan must therefore act before it is too late. (Syndicate Features)