'Release of Saeed, Sufi casts shadow over Pak's seriousness to crack down on terror'

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Washington, July 8 (ANI): The subsequent release of Lashkar-e-Toiba's (LeT) chief Hafeez Muhammad Saeed, the hardcore Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdullah Aziz, and now the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed (TNSM) chief Sufi Mohammad has cast serious doubts over Pakistan's claims that it is seriously acting against the Taliban and other home grown terror outfits, a senior US intelligence official said.

The United States is worried and at the same time skeptical over Pakistan's claims about cracking down on certain banned terror outfits.

Washington is concerned that Pakistan has failed to keep extremist leaders such as Sufi Mohammad and Hafeez Saeed behind bars.

"While Pakistan claims it is cracking down on extremists, note how Sufi Mohammed, Hafiz Saeed and his aide, and Maulana Abdullah Aziz have been cut loose," The Long War Journal quoted a senior US intelligence official, as saying.

Blaming the TNSM for the failure of the Swat peace accord between the Pakistan government and the banned pro-Taliban TNSM, he said Islamabad must stop relying on these militant leaders to cart a way out of the problem it is facing currently.

"Pakistan can kill all of the foot soldiers it wants to in the northwest, but until the leaders like Sufi and Saeed are taken out of the game, the gains will be temporary," the official said.

Even as Mohammad's release from the so called 'protective custody' is yet to be confirmed, it is being believed that his release may signal new negotiations being chalked out ahead of the Pakistan's Army surge in the South Waziristan against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud .

"The timing of his release is curious, and may signal that a new round of negotiations is in the works," the journal said.

If the Pakistan government is again trusting Sufi Mohammad for negotiations with Mehsud, it could be once again a blunder in the making for Islamabad, as he had openly supported the Taliban earlier, the report said.

"The Taliban are doing nothing wrong. The government is responsible for violations," Sufi had said after the Swat peace deal was severed.

Meanwhile, the NWFP Information Minister, Iftikhar Hussain said the government has no information regarding the arrest or release of Sufi Muhammad.

"The provincial government has no information about the whereabouts of Maulana Sufi Muhammad," Hussain said. (ANI)

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