There is much excitement in India about the Interpol red corner notice for Hafiz Saeed, but the person for whom the international police organisation has put out the notice is virtually impossible to connect with the Jamat-ud-Dawa chief, so vague is the information about him.
On a request from the CBI, Interpol is reported to have issued red corner notices on Tuesday for Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who is also the founder of the Laskhar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, and for Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT operations commander.
While the red corner for Lakhvi is straightforward enough, not so the other one. It names only a “Sayed, Hafiz saab” with no other determining details about him except his Pakistani nationality and a date of birth.
Sayed is a title used by those who trace their ancestry to the Prophet Mohammed, while Saeed is a common name.
Speaking to The Hindu from the United Kingdom, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he did not know about the red corner notices and had not seen them.
But, he said, there was no need for any Interpol notice for Lakhvi as he is already in the custody of Pakistani authorities. Pre-trial proceedings are underway against Lakhvi and five other suspects for their involvement in the Mumbai attacks.
With regard to Hafiz Saeed, the Minister said that even if a red corner notice had been issued against him, the government was not obliged to immediately arrest him.
“The country makes its own investigations against the person, and only then decides,” Mr. Malik said.
The Pakistan government would examine the evidence on Hafiz Saeed provided by India, and take steps accordingly, he said.
“I received the latest dossier [from India, said to contain evidence against Hafiz Saeed] only two days ago. So we will examine it and we will take the necessary action. There has to be due process,” Mr. Malik said.
He also reiterated an appeal to New Delhi to provide Pakistan with information it had of further terrorist attacks feared planned against India by groups based in Pakistan.
“We are prepared to work together with India on this. So I appeal to the Indian Prime Minister once again, in the name of god, if you have any information, please give it to us. I hope my request will be taken in a positive way,” he said.
Meanwhile, it may be unrealistic to expect the Pakistan government to act against Hafiz Saeed on the basis of the Interpol notice for more reasons than what Mr. Malik described as “due process.”
Not only is the name wrong, as there is no accompanying photograph — “Not Available” is stamped across the rectangular space for a mug shot — it is impossible to figure out that the red corner notice is, in fact, for Hafiz Saeed.
It also makes no mention of his affiliation with the Jamat-ud-Dawa, or with the Laskhar-e-Taiba, or of his designation by the United Nations 1267 Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee.
A separate notice for Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, already under arrest in Pakistan, also carries no photograph but has detailed information about him, including his affiliation with the Laskhar-e-Taiba, and his position as the group’s chief operations commander.
It also carries information about his designation by the 1267 Committee.
The Hindu has learnt that in forwarding the request to Interpol for the red corner notice for both Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi, the CBI attached all the information from the Mumbai investigations, including the confessional statements of the surviving gunman Ajmal Amir ‘Kasab,’ and the two Indian suspects in the case, Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin.
They also forwarded the U.N. Security Council designation of both Lakhvi and Hafiz Saeed by the 1267 sanctions committee, CBI sources told The Hindu in New Delhi. Photographs of both individuals — there is no dearth of them — were also included in the material sent by the CBI to Interpol.
In his confessional statement, ‘Kasab’ mentioned meeting a “Hafiz Saab”, and at another point, “Sayed bhai.” Interpol’s red corner notice for “Hafiz Saab Sayed” appears to be drawn from the ‘Kasab’ statement.
It is not clear why Interpol chose to overlook all the other material sent to them.
The CBI was taken unawares when The Hindu called to find out about the goof-up, and an official said it was the first he was hearing about it. A meeting was said to be underway late in the afternoon to determine what had gone wrong.