Dangerous stand

Hafiz Saeed, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists and the mastermind of the 2008 attack in Bombay, has cocked a snook at the US, which has declared a $10 million bounty on his head, and in fact, at all those who want him to be made accountable for his words and actions. In a recent interview Saeed not only justified the militant actions he inspired and organised but also flaunted the freedom that he enjoys in Pakistan. He moves around wherever he pleases and claims that he is like any other ordinary person in that country. He does not consider the US promise of a reward for his capture to be of any significance. He says his fate is not in the hands of the US, confident that he would continue with life in Pakistan the way he has lived it.

Hafiz Saeed’s cockiness is informative in many ways. He is not only completely free but is heavily protected by the Pakistani state. Pakistan has claimed, in response to India’s demand for handing him over to this country on the basis of very convincing charges of his involvement in the Mumabi attack, that the courts have rejected the evidence. It is known how courts in that country handle charges related to terrorism, and how duplicitous the government and the military establishment are. While this is not a fresh revelation, what Hafeez’s words show more explicitly is the farcical nature of the US lookout for him. Though there is a big price for him, is the US serious about getting him? It should not be difficult for the US, with all the resources it has in Pakistan, to take Hafeez Saeed if it really wanted to. If it could find bin Laden’s hiding place and eliminate him through a military operation, does a free bird like Saeed pose any difficulty?

Hafiz Saeed is in the United Nations list of terrorists also. But neither the US nor Pakistan is keen to bring him to justice, probably because his activities have not directly gone against their interests. Both countries have suffered because of such a self-centric view of  terrorism. Terrorism, directed against any country, is directed against all the people of the world. There is no good terrorist and bad terrorist, and all of them have to be dealt with in the same way.

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