National

U.S. aid ignores LeT, JeM rallies, Lakhvi bail

Despite the fact that both the LeT and JeM have resurfaced visibly in the past year in Pakistan and the founders of both, Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar, have held public rallies in Pakistan in 2014, the U.S. Secretary of State has signed off on a certification that the Pakistan government has “prevented al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad from operating in the territory of Pakistan” for the year.

The certificate is a condition for the U.S. to disburse funds under the Kerry-Lugar Bill for civilian aid to Pakistan that was co-authored by Mr. Kerry in 2009. This year’s grant of $532 million to Pakistan will be disbursed shortly.

However, in January 2014, the JeM held a public rally in Muzaffarabad, addressed via telephone by Masood Azhar from his home in Bahawalpur, in which he called for “dreaded revenge” against India. The JeM was set up by Masood Azhar after he was released by India in the wake of the hijack of a Kathmandu-Delhi Indian Airlines aircraft in December 1999. Azhar is also an accused in the 2001 attack on Parliament in New Delhi, and is a designated terrorist by the U.S.

Meanwhile, in December 2014, Hafiz Saeed, the LeT founder and leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (which the U.S. State Department calls a “front organisation” for the LeT), held a massive two-day rally at Lahore’s Minar-e-Pakistan that reportedly attracted more than a lakh participants, who were transported and housed with help from official authorities. During his speech, Mr. Saeed spoke of “Ghazwa-e-Hind” or war against India, and a few days later appeared on Pakistani TV stations blaming India for the Peshawar school massacre.

The State Department’s certification has gone ahead despite these events, and the bail granted to 26/11 planner and LeT operations chief Zaki-ur Rahman Lakhvi in the Mumbai case. With the paperwork done, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan reportedly said he expected the $532 million to reach Pakistan “soon.”

The civilian aid authorisation comes on the heels of a separate U.S. defence authorisation of $1 billion under S.1847, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, which requires the U.S. Secretary of Defence to “certify” that Pakistan has demonstrated a commitment to dismantle the Haqqani network and preventing North Waziristan from becoming a terrorist safe haven.

The defence authorisation for Pakistan was signed by President Obama on December 18, and will deal with military reimbursements for the Coalition Support Fund on the war in Afghanistan.

While some pro-Indian Congress members like Tulsi Gabbard said she had voted against the grant, speaking during a visit to Delhi this week, she added, “The U.S. is a democracy, and this how things sometimes turn out.”

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:18:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/us-aid-ignores-let-jem-rallies-lakhvi-bail/article6754119.ece

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