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Updated: April 3, 2012 22:52 IST

JuD says move will just fan anti-U.S. feelings

Anita Joshua
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The U.S. has announced a bounty of $ 10 million on outlawed Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. File photo
AP The U.S. has announced a bounty of $ 10 million on outlawed Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. File photo

Even as the Pakistan government was largely silent over the U.S. announcing a bounty of $10 million for the arrest and conviction of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, the organisation turned belligerent on Tuesday; warning that this “irresponsible” move would do him no harm and only add impetus to anti-American sentiments.

The only response from the government side came from Interior Minister Rehman Malik late in the evening. Talking to Geo News, Mr. Malik said: “I also learned from the media. There has been no official communication from the U.S. We have sought verification and cannot comment till then. Let's say if it is confirmed, then we can ask on what basis has this bounty been announced?”

When Geo pointed out that the announcement was on a U.S. government website, Mr. Malik again stalled for time. “It has to come through diplomatic channels or the Interpol. We should wait for official communication [before reacting],” he replied.

Saeed appears on TV

Meanwhile, the man in question appeared on the same programme and held forth for close to an hour. And, he was on other prime-time programmes also; underscoring the fact that he was not a fugitive and his activities were all out in the open.

In a statement, JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid linked the bounty announcement at this juncture to the ongoing “people's struggle against” the restoration of NATO supply lines and drone attacks. “The U.S., on behalf of India, has started this kind of propaganda against the nation's mainstream leaders. The latest American tactics will not create any trouble for Hafiz Saeed but it will definitely shock billions of Muslims and give impetus to anti-American sentiments.”

Holding regular rallies

Since the NATO attack on a Pakistan Army outpost along the border with Afghanistan last November, Saeed has been leading a coalition of religious and right wing forces under the banner of ‘Difa-e-Pakistan Council' (DPC) and holding rallies across the country on a regular basis. Only last week, he managed to enter Islamabad for a DPC rally despite a restraining order against him owing to growing unease within the diplomatic community over the freedom with which he had begun addressing rallies and openly fanning anger against India and the U.S.

Such being the case, the JuD spokesman and Saeed himself questioned the rationale in announcing an award for the arrest of a person whose whereabouts are known. “He is not hiding in caves or the mountains but is a mainstream religious and political leader of the country. His welfare and religious activities are not hidden.” Further, the JuD billed the announcement as an assault on Islam and Muslims.

Readying his defence

Though the JuD sought to sound unfazed, there were indications that Saeed's legal team members were putting their heads together to prepare his defence. However, his lawyer in the Mumbai terror attack case, A. K. Dogar, said he had not been formally contacted yet but maintained that this bounty announcement was a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. “How can any country declare him a terrorist without a conviction? There are many in the world who consider the U.S. the biggest terrorist for attacking Iraq on the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Clarifying that he was speaking only on the point of law and not as Saeed's lawyer, Mr. Dogar said the JuD could seek protection for him under Pakistan's Constitution. “Do not forget that he was detained after the Mumbai terror attacks and acquitted by the Full Bench of the Lahore High Court. The federal government and the government of Punjab appealed against this verdict but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal.”

PPP, PML(N) silent

While the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and main opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), remained tight-lipped through the day, some of the smaller parties including cricketer-turned-political Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf — which has shared the DPC platform on several occasions — spoke up.

The party's information secretary Shafqat Mahmood wanted to know if Washington had shared the information with Pakistan before putting Saeed on the U.S. Rewards for Justice List. Stating that Saeed was entitled to due process of law and innocent until proven guilty, the PTI spokesman added that his party would oppose any unilateral action by the U.S. like the one it had conducted against al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Politically motivated

Given the venue and timing of the announcement in India by a middle-level U.S. State Department official, PML(Q) secretary general Mushahid Hussain said it was a politically motivated decision which was not legally sound. “Pakistan has been caught by surprise,” he said; adding that the announcement was the result of successful lobbying by the increasingly active and effective Indian lobby in Washington which was playing a crucial role in the upcoming presidential elections.

“Hafiz Saeed is not a fugitive. And it is wrong to link the Kashmir issue to terrorism. Kashmir issue has nothing to do with the al-Qaeda or 9/11,” Mr. Hussain said; underlining that this was a bid by the U.S. to appease India and pile pressure on Pakistan.

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We are consoled and happy by USA declaration.Why USA had been silent over terror training camps,Dawood Ibrahim and terrorist organizations working against India but not attacking NATO forces in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.Is to do something after blockage of passage by Pakistan for NATO supplies to Afghanistan.There is nothing to celebrate for us because it is not going to make any difference as far as Pakistan is concerned.

from:  Ravindra Kumar Raizada
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 12:40 IST

@Hindupur

You have misspelled both first and the last names of Hafiz Saeed. It is important because half a dozen key leaders in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt have the name Sayed.

from:  Tipu Qaimkhani
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:38 IST

America has handed a tremendous boon to Hafiz Saeed. One has to wonder if there is some underhanded deal going on between the Americans and the Taliban.

from:  Tipu Qaimkhani
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 11:31 IST

When you are weak, it doesn't matter whether you are right or wrong, no one is goign to take you serious. If Indian politicians' are serious about terrorism, then they need to take Israel's approach and go after the terrorists. India should kill it's enemies. Pakistan will not come to war with India over a terrorist. But it will sent a clear message to our enemies that we will come after them. If you are not willing to strike back, then expect people to attack you at will. Sending documents, diplomat's etc is useless, only action will make both Pakistan and the terrorists to take India serious. It is a shame that people do not demand action from our government. Perhaps, we don't value of lives and our way of life.

from:  Chandra
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 22:15 IST

If Hafiz Saeed had so much love for humanity as he has hatred against India and Indians, he would have become a celebrity on this planet. Unfortunately, this man neither understands love nor Islam.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 21:46 IST

This US bounty is fishy and US talking of (not kill) capture only. Certainly US putting pressure on Saeed to declare that he accept lifting of NATO supply blockade (definitely US move not to please India).

from:  KMR Overseas
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 20:48 IST

How he was allowed to indoctrinate and espouse so much hate against India and the West? It is obvious that the state authorities allow him to act with impunity in which case the Pak government should be held accountable for his actions and deeds. The UN and ICC need to prosecute the Pak authorities for allowing terror to emanate from their territory.

from:  Vipul Dave
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 20:07 IST

India should have put a reward for Hafeez Sayed before U.S. did. India should put a price on the fugitives hiding in Pakistan like Dawood Ibrahim and other criminals.

from:  Hindupur Rajagopalan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 19:24 IST

Its shame that we are not taking stern action against a who has made big black mark on our security.

from:  Rajagopal
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 19:09 IST

Why is this terrorist getting such an open platform in Pakistan? And why is the Indian government making so many friendly overtures to that nation? Handing over terrorists should be a non-negotiable. It is not as if this fellow is making himself difficult to understand!

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 19:09 IST

Why America delay this announcement of bounty?It better if America declared for bounty immediate after Mumbai terror attack. Now Hafiz is a trouble for America after drone attack to Pakistani soldiers so they do this.

from:  Dr Taiyab
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 18:47 IST
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