Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and the Jamaat al Daawa have nothing to do with Mumbai attacks, regardless of what the Indians keep saying. If you don’t believe me, ask the InterPol. They also don’t believe what India says.
By Abdullah Muntazir
Hafiz Mohammed Saeed (left) and Pakistani Hindus who benefited from the social work of Jamaat al Daawa demonstrating in Hyderabad after the government decision to seal schools run by the charity after accusations from India and the United States it supported terror.
LAHORE, Pakistan-Pakistani interior minister Abdul Rehman Malik has invited his Indian counterpart for a public debate on the issue of Mumbai attacks.
He claims that Pakistan has done more than India as far as investigations into the Mumbai attack are concerned. He also said that his country cannot take action against Ameer Jamat-ud-Dawah Prof. Hafiz Saeed because of “hearsay” and needs more time to assess the genuineness of information provided by India on him.
On the other hand Indian foreign minister SM Krishna has said that Pakistan has a vested interest in blocking the inquiry into the Mumbai attacks and is safeguarding Hafiz Saeed. Indian interior minister has visited United States to intervene in the issue and press Pakistan to act against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed has become bone of contention between the two countries. Instead of appreciating and recognizing Pakistan’s efforts against Mumbai suspects, India has hinged everything on the prosecution of Hafiz Saeed.
Pakistan has arrested top commanders of Lashkar-e-Taiba including its chief operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and despite the risk of public anger and backlash all the arrested suspects were booked under the antiterrorism law.
It was not easy for Pakistan to arrest and charge the top commanders of a militant group under anti-terrorism law especially when the said commanders are seen as ‘pro-Pakistan’ and have enjoyed enormous public support in the past.
Notwithstanding Indian allegations against Lashar-e-Taiba, the group is generally considered ‘freedom fighters’ in Pakistan and Kashmir. The group had also opposed armed attacks against Pakistani security forces and thus enjoyed a good reputation in Pakistani security circles.
But despite this ‘good’ reputation Pakistan arrested almost all of its important commanders who were believed to be looking after the group’s armed activities in occupied Kashmir.
Unfortunately, India could not understand and recognize the enormity of the steps Pakistan has taken against the group. Instead, New Delhi tried to press Pakistan to ‘do more’.
India also ignored Pakistan’s compulsions and complications while its security forces were busy in N.W.F.P in military operation against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The understanding in Islamabad is that instead of cooperating with Pakistan in its war against extremism, India wants to use Mumbai attacks as a tool to press Pakistan to accept Indian hegemony in the region.
This understanding forced Pakistan to give a message of ‘No more’ to India in case of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. Pakistan has rightly asked India to provide concrete evidence against him that can stand in a court of law.
What India has provided so far in the case of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is not sufficient for any legal action. Even Interpol is not satisfied with Indian dossier against Hafiz Saeed. Under immense Indian pressure, Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against Hafiz Saeed but the notice itself shows that the international body has ignored the entire Indian dossier against Hafiz Saeed and used only confessional statements of Ajmal Qasab, the lone survivor of Mumbai attacks. In his confession statement, Ajmal Qasab mentioned meeting a “Hafiz Saab”, and at another point, “Sayed bhai. Interpol mixed ‘Hafiz Saab’ and ‘Sayed Bhai’ as one name and the ‘Red Corner Notice’ reads the name ‘Hafiz Saab, Sayed’.
Prominent Indian newspaper The Hindu criticized the Interpol for issuing such an ambiguous and vague notice. In its report on Thursday, Aug 27, 2009 the Hindu writes:
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.
The report further says:
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.
The paper says that Interpol ignored all the material provided by India against Hafiz Saeed. It says:
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.
If Indian dossier against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed could not convince Interpol, how it can stand in a court of law. Government of Pakistan has already lost its case against Hafiz Saeed in Lahore High Court and in Supreme Court too, it was unable to provide anything substantial to back its appeal against Lahore High Court’s decision of setting him free. Interior minister Abdur Reman Malik is rightly confident to challenge India for a public debate because he knows that India can not convince any court of law in the world against Hafiz Saeed on the basis of its dossiers provided to Pakistan. India should appreciate and accept what Pakistan has done so far in the case if it really wants Pakistan to cooperate otherwise unnecessary pressure will bring only ‘unwanted’ situations for India.
Mr. Muntazir is an expert on militancy and regional security issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org