In a spectacle guaranteed to “send a chill through New Delhi,” as The Financial Times put it, Hafiz Saeed, the suspected mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai terror bombings, is being feted in Pakistan as a “hero” attracting thousands of people as he “criss-crosses” the country at the head of a radical road-show targeting India and calling for “jihad.”
The newspaper suggested that Mr. Saeed's campaign had the covert support of Pakistan's “India-fixated [military] generals” opposed to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's bid to improve relations with India. His re-emergence in such a big way after being forced to lie low following the Mumbai carnage was a “stark illustration of how the authorities allow extremists to flout bans and operate in full view,” it said.
In a front-page report, “The mullahs, the militants and the military — Pakistan's shadowy coalition stages return,” the FT said a crowd of 10,000 chanted “If God asks, we will go for jihad” at a rally he addressed recently.
Mr. Saeed, founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), said he wanted to send a message to India, America and NATO forces that the defence of Pakistan was his main priority.
“Pakistan is facing very severe threats from both sides — India is one side, America and NATO forces on the other, and the agenda of both is Pakistan. We want to send a message to them that the defence of Pakistan is uppermost in our minds,” he said describing Pakistan government's plans to grant greater market access to Indian goods as a “conspiracy” to destroy Pakistan's economy.
The report described “fist-waving speakers” at the rally threatening that “India would be sundered into quarters.”
“The spectacle will send a chill through New Delhi which views Mr. Saeed as public enemy number one, and lay bare the limits of U.S. attempts to pressure or bribe Pakistan into cracking down on militants,” it said.