Why Hafiz Saeed will continue to be safe in Pakistan

By: Pathikrit Payne
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The decision by the US government to finally name Hafiz Saeed as a terrorist and put the name of his organization Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) in the list of banned Foreign Terrorist Organization list has suddenly created much optimism in India.

There are expectation that Pakistan and US might finally act against Hafiz Saeed for all his nefarious activities as the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and the innumerable terror attacks he has been the mastermind of, including the deadly 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai.

As immediate fallout of the American decision to term him a terrorist, all the accounts of JuD would be frozen in all areas within US jurisdiction. However that would have extremely limited impact on JuD as most of its money essentially come through hawala routes.

Will US or Pakistan take action against Hafiz Saeed?

The bigger issue though is whether any action would be taken against Hafiz Saeed. Would he be hunted down by the US the manner in which US hunted down Osama Bin Laden? Would Pakistan act against Hafiz Seeed the manner in which it has been waging war against Tehreek-e-Taliban (TeT)?

The sad part of the entire saga is that the possibility of either happening is slim. US is already battle fatigued and is eager to wrap up its war in the Af-Pak region. It has already achieved its limited goal of killing Osama Bin Laden, considerably reduced the ability of Al Qaida to hit US again, and majorly neutralized the top rung leadership of Al Qaida. Beyond this, the USA does not have much interest in the Af-Pak region. Secondly with the situation in West Asia worsening, the possibility of US preferring to give more attention there is more pertinent than US spending time to hunt down Hafiz Saeed.

Is he more of India's problem than that of USA's?

The reality is that Hafiz Saeed is more of India's problem than that of USA's. Therefore if he has to be brought to justice then India would have to do something instead of expecting US to do the favor. Incidentally the worsening situation in Iraq and the American reluctance to put its forces there again is a vindication of the fact that America would try its best to restrict itself against another operation until it is of utmost necessity.

With the situation in W Asia deteriorating, the US will concentrate there more

Even then, for US to conduct another operation like the one it conducted to extract Osama Bin Laden would be difficult since if Pakistan Government allows another operation then it would completely lose its credibility among its own people. Besides Hafiz Saeed has considerable popularity in Pakistan and massive support of ISI.

Further, the case of Osama Bin Laden and that of Hafiz Saeed are completely different from the American perspective. Osama was a national enemy whereas Hafiz Saeed is just another terror mastermind for US. In fact when the ‘War on Terror' started after the incident of 9/11, the alleged tacit understanding between US and Pakistan was that while US would hunt down Talibani and Al Qaida elements, it would spare those terror organizations that are operating in J&K from Pakistani bases and are not directly involved in Afghanistan.

Thus one would have noticed that not a single drone attack ever took place on LeT and other Pakistani based terror groups operating in India. However with the involvement of LeT in the attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan having been confirmed, situation might change a little but not entirely. The issue of LeT's involvement in 26/11 terror attack was clear and present, in which even US citizens were killed. Even then it took much time for US to declare JuD and Hafiz Saeed as a terrorist.

Pakistan would never wage war against LeT unlike it had on TeT

There is no doubt that Pakistan Government would continue to be in utter denial of Hafiz Saeed being a terrorist and that JuD is a frontal organization for terror group LeT. Again, the reality is that unlike the Tehreek-e- Taliban ( TeT), Hafiz Saeed's LeT never worked against the interest of the Pakistani Government and like the most faithful and obedient servant, continued with all the nefarious activities against India on behalf of the Pakistani state.

Likewise LeT has never been responsible for any terror attack inside Pakistan and thus for Pakistan Government it would be very difficult to initiate military action against LeT. In any case Pakistan is already waging major wars against Baloch insurgency and TeT is breathing down its neck. The last thing that Pakistan would want to do is to open another front against LeT.

Therefore, everything said and done, the American declaration of JuD as a terror organization would not change much in reality. Pakistan would continue to be a safe haven for Hafiz Saeed and US has bigger priorities now in Middle East than to hunt down the LeT chief, even though some possibility of the same cannot be ruled out.

What India needs to do and why India should be worried about Hafiz Saeed

From Indian point of view, expecting US or Pakistan to do the needful would be too farfetched. If India wants to bring Hafiz Saeed to justice it would have to do it on its own and develop the necessary wherewithal for the same instead of waiting with perpetual home for someone else to perform the difficult task.

So far the threat that Hafiz Saeed and his terror organizations pose to India Is concerned, the situation for India remains extremely alarming. The possibility of LeT resorting to more violent terror attacks both on Indian interests in Afghanistan as well inside india in the aftermath of US exit from Afghanistan remains extremely pertinent. Thus sooner Indian Government makes effort to bring him to justice the better it is.

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