On previous occasions he was released because no evidence could be produced against him by the Pakistani government agencies. There should be no doubt that he will be freed from detention in his home in Lahore, temporarily dubbed a ‘sub-jail’ soon enough for the same reason. You cannot expect the Pakistani establishment to actually send one of its biggest ‘assets’ to jail after producing solid evidence.
According to Lashkar, Saeed was detained to ‘please’ both the US and the Indian prime minister—a preposterous theory but not surprising coming as it does from Pakistan where fanciful theories against ‘enemies of Islam’ are constantly churned out.
A leading daily on front page reported “Trump reaps in a week what Obama sowed” saying that the move to detain Hafeez came because of the pressure from Trump Administration. Quoting reliable sources, the daily went on to say: “Pressure was being exerted on Pakistan for a clamp down on JuD since long and it was actually the Obama Administration which did all the spadework for it”.
Despite the bravado against the US on the strength of its ‘all weather’ friendship with China, Pakistan is perhaps rattled by the new US president, Donald Trump, who has declared a war against ‘Islamist terror’ and has announced measures to tighten vigil over countries like Pakistan which are breeding grounds for terrorism. The US has for long been asking Pakistan to take action against terrorists it nurtures for attacks on India (and Afghanistan). Pakistan paid little or no heed to ‘do more’ to diktats issued by the previous Obama administration.
Trump need not have directly asked the Pakistanis to take action against Hafeez Saeed for whose arrest the US had announced a bounty of $one million. The hints have been clear that not taking action against him would incur the displeasure of the new occupant of White House.
The action against Hafeez Saeed would have carried some meaning if he had been tried in a Pakistani court for the Mumbai terror attacks. Just how ‘valuable’ is the man for Pakistan is clear from the fact that he enjoys absolute freedom within the country to recruit volunteers for jihad against India and there are no restrictions on his preaching of hatred against India across Pakistan.
Saeed is not the only ‘asset’ Pakistan shields. There is Maulana Masood Azhar who runs the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) that fans communalism and unleashes terror in Kashmir. His group was blacklisted by the UN for links to Al Qaeda but he was exempted. China, Pakistan’s closest ally, has blocked India’s repeated attempt to have him declared terrorist by the UN which would have placed travel ban on him and frozen his assets. He formed his group after he was released along with other Pakistanis who had hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in December 1999 and threatened to kill all aboard.
For a while Azhar was out of favour with the Pakistani authorities after he was linked to a plot to assassinate Pervez Musharraf, when he was in the driver’s seat in Islamabad as the military ruler of the country. But he came out of the cold by renewing his pledge to send jehadis into India. He, like Hafeez Saeed, cannot be punished for his activities because it would not go down well with the establishment of the highly radicalised country who will see it as the end of Pakistan’s policy of undiluted hostility towards ‘Hindu’ India.