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Pak duplicity on Saeed will haunt it

DH News Service Bengaluru Nov 28 2017, 0:18 IST

Pakistan has thumbed its nose yet again at victims of the Lashkar-e-Toiba's numerous terrorist attacks in India. It has released LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, who masterminded the 2008 carnage in Mumbai, from house arrest. A Lahore court ordered the government to release him, claiming that there wasn't enough evidence to deny him his freedom. This is the third time that Saeed is being released without a trial. He was briefly detained twice soon after the attacks in Mumbai. Then early this year, the Punjab government put him under arrest. And once again, he is walking free, signalling the significant support he continues to enjoy in the Pakistani establishment. Although India has provided Pakistan with ample evidence proving the LeT chief's links to the 26/11 attacks which culminated in the death of 164 civilians, including 28 foreign nationals, Islamabad has not brought him or others linked to the carnage to justice. That it was never interested in doing so was evident from the start. Consider this: the Pakistan government hasn't formally charged him with terror crimes so far. His detention in January was on charges of "harming peace and security." And even on this charge, the government did not build a strong case. This when Saeed is designated a terrorist not just by India but the United Nations, the United States, European Union and Russia, as well.

India has expressed "outrage" on Saeed's release. Delhi's helpless handwringing when it comes to dealing with Saeed and his sponsors in the Pakistani establishment is disturbing. As for the US, it has simply called on Pakistan to arrest him again. It had imposed a $10 million on Saeed's head in 2012. Bounties are aimed at providing material incentives to people to expose the whereabouts of a fugitive. In Saeed's case his location is not unknown. He even addresses public rallies. Clearly, the US, for all its tough talk on fighting terrorism, is reluctant to ruffle Pakistan's feathers.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) nurtures people like Saeed as they find them to be useful tools to pressure India. But Saeed is a threat not just to India's security and its people but to Pakistan as well. Saeed has expressed interest in entering mainstream politics. That would result in further radicalisation of Pakistan's already turbulent politics. Violent protests by radical Islamists have paralysed daily life in Islamabad and other cities for several weeks now and forced the government to cave in to their demands. It should serve as a wake-up call to the Pakistani government. Saeed on the streets will only add to the strength of these violent and undemocratic forces. Freeing him is a blunder that Pakistan will come to regret soon.

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