Life sentence for Hafiz Saeed

An anti-terrorism court has awarded 31-year imprisonment to Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, accused by India and the US of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He is convicted in two cases of terror financing. A controversial figure both inside and outside the country, in a bid to distance himself from LeT amid allegations of terrorism he formed and headed two charities, Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD).

In December 2008, the UN Security Council placed his name and both those entities on its sanctions list, designating the latter a front for the LeT. By that time the LeT had already been proscribed for six years and alongside others, with trans-border agendas, had lost state patronage. Later on, the government also took action against JuD and FIF sealing all their offices, schools, dispensaries and seminaries. Saeed was arrested in 2018, tried on similar charges of terror financing and handed a 15-year jail term.

Pakistan had to do that for the sake of its own peace and stability. Militant organisations, like Saeed’s and others’ of its ilk, have done immense harm to this state and society. They have played a significant role in radicalising young people, producing a large force of jihadists ready to kill and be killed for causes that not only brought a bad name to this country but also threatened life and security of fellow citizens.

Many such elements tend to shift to further extremist organisations when their own fail to come up to their expectations. Little surprise then that driven by their ideological indoctrination some of these men also found it more satisfying to join the TTP terrorists murdering innocent people and challenging the writ of the state. Unfortunately, those in authority have not seemed to care about the rising tide of extremism.

Various violent sectarian organisations, though banned on paper, have felt free to reinvent their identities to continue doing, under new names, what they were doing before. As if that was not bad enough, a certain extremist outfit, proscribed for exploiting sensitive religious issues to create serious law and order situations to embarrass and throw off balance the previous federal government, was lately allowed to function as a ‘normal’ religio-political party against its will. This though is a purely domestic problem that needs to be addressed urgently and effectively. As regards foreign-oriented outfits they were made dysfunctional several years ago.

Yet, the US along with its strategic ally, India, continues to harp on the same old ‘do more’ tune. A joint statement, issued after their recent Ministerial Dialogue in Washington, asked Pakistan to take “immediate, sustained, and irreversible action”, ensuring that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks.

For that they also named some organisations on the UN Sanctions Committee list, such as the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Hizbul Mujahideen. As the Foreign Office in Islamabad pointed out in its reaction to the “unwarranted” reference, some of the terrorist groups named are either non-existent or have been dismantled. India, said the FO, had levelled these allegations against Pakistan in a desperate bid to hide its state terrorism and brutal atrocities against the people in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. As a matter of fact, it does not even hide its use of terrorism as a state policy.

Its national security adviser Ajit Doval had unveiled that policy at a public forum as an “offensive defence strategy”, explaining in detail how Pakistan is to be destabilised through terrorism. It was a while ago, i.e., in November of 2020, that Pakistan had handed a dossier to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres containing details of India’s involvement in planning and promoting terrorism in this country. Western governments have not uttered a single word of reproach against their friend, nor are they going to urge it to desist from such activities. Where political interests are involved, all other issues and concerns take a back seat.