Pak action against JuD chief welcome

The Pakistan government’s decision to put Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed under house arrest is a welcome first step. Saeed masterminded several terror attacks in India, including the attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. He has been detained several times in the past, only to be released within a few months, if not weeks. India is therefore understandably sceptical. If past experience is any indication, it suggests that Saeed’s detention is a temporary move that came under pressure from either the US or China. There is little reason for India to believe that the JuD chief’s detention this time is any different from his previous arrests. In addition to Saeed, Pakistani authorities have arrest around 35 other JuD members. The Pakistan government has said that the crackdown is a “policy decision” taken under the National Action Plan.

However, the JuD continues to function in the open, albeit under a new name. Following the crackdown, some 20 extremist organisations including the JuD have come together under the banner of the Tehreek Azadi Jammu and Kashmir. If it is indeed serious about tackling religious extremism and terrorism emanating from its soil, Pakistan must follow up on Saeed’s detention by pressing charges against him and ensuring that he is brought to justice and punished for his role in deadly terror attacks in India. Successive Indian governments have provided Pakistan with strong evidence of his involvement especially in the 2008 Mumbai
attacks. Pakistan must act on this evidence to build a strong case against him.

Importantly, the Pakistan government needs to clean up its own act. It needs to shake itself free of its long-standing policy of using terrorism against India and Afghanistan. To this end, it must dismantle the infrastructure in state institutions that nurtures terror outfits like the JuD and break all links with them. Saeed’s detention can turn out to be an important
turning point in Pakistan’s contemporary history if the government uses this to put in place a comprehensive strategy to tackle terror. If this happens, then it would be guiding the country along a new, productive and peaceful path. Should it release Saeed and continue its pro-terror policies of the past, this would be yet another opportunity lost.

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