Jihadi terrorism continues unabated even inside Pakistan and practically every day in Kashmir.
The argument made by Pakistan’s interior ministry before a judicial review board in that country recently that Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, whose ideological outfit has spawned the terror group Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, is spreading “terrorism” in the name of jihad, is the undiluted truth, but it has been made as a part of deception, and is a case of expediency rather than a matter of conviction.
When the JuD chief was detained on January 30, India called it a case of “tokenism”. While this was not a strong enough description, it did fit the facts of the case.
The house arrest of the guru of terrorists came after the Trump administration, which had just begun its term in the United States, warned Pakistan that it was in danger of being placed in a list of countries whose nationals would be denied visas to enter America for the next three months. Thus, by apprehending the JuD progenitor, and placing him under house arrest, Islamabad was taking evasive action.
At the end of the first three months of detention, the government extended the period of restraint for another three months when the matter came before the judicial review board. A government official told the board that Mr Saeed was detained following pressure from the United Nations and international organisations, broadly indicating that temporary fetters put on the JuD leader and four of his associates was a matter of compulsion for the Nawaz Sharif government. It was evidently also a way for the Nawaz government to curry favour with both the LeT and the Army, to which the LeT and JuD are considered very close.
We should be amply clear that the pseudo-punishment given to Mr Saeed and his associates is by no stretch of the imagination proper action in response to the 26/11 attack on Mumbai in 2008. In that matter the Pakistani authorities are continuing to stonewall. The JuD chief has only been placed under preventive detention and not been arrested for committing any criminal offence, leave alone terrorism.
No criminal case has been lodged against the JuD quintet and no investigations against them are ongoing. The preventive detention game has also been played by Pakistan in the case of another terror mastermind, Masood Azhar, of Jaish-e-Mohammad. When the immediate danger of being called out by the US or the UN passes, preventive detention is quietly ended.
Pakistan is a state internationally recognised as a sponsor of terrorism. As such, it frequently plays a cat-and-mouse game with international opinion. It should also be clear that when restraint is placed on high-profile leaders terror outfit chiefs, their followers by no means go underground or cease criminal activities. Jihadi terrorism continues unabated even inside Pakistan and practically every day in Kashmir.