How Pakistan gifted the Mumbai 26/11 attack to Hafiz Saeed “saheb”
There has been a lot of Hafiz Saeed these days. While the world seeks his prosecution, Pakistan makes it clear that 'saheb' wont be prosecuted as there is no evidence against him.
The importance of being Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan is something that is a well-known fact. While all these years, he was of relevance as he played the part of a proxy in Pakistan's Kashmir battle, today he has become a politically relevant figure as well.
He may not hold sway across Pakistan. But on a whistle, he can gather lakhs of people at Khyber Pakhtunkwa and the Punjab region. This can be quite a concern for the political class who would want to take him head on ahead of a very crucial election in Pakistan.
The bon-homie between Saeed and the establishment is nothing new. An incident to this effect needs to be narrated. This would tell you how important Saeed and his Lashkar-e-Tayiba are to the Pakistan establishment.
During a conversation that I had had with the late Syed Saleem Shahzad, the renowned journalist from Pakistan, he had spoken about the original 26/11 plan. Ilyas Kashmiri the head of the 313 brigade which used to train cadres of the al-Qaeda had decided to announce operations in India. He had initially planned an attack in Kashmir, but decided against it and planned one in Mumbai.
While all this was in the making with the ISI fully in the know of things, Hafiz Saeed was not a happy man. India and Kashmir especially were his bastions. He was faced with yet another issue and that was to keep his flock together. All his fighters wanted to move out of Pakistan and fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.
When Saeed informed the ISI about it, the agency was mighty worried. The ISI wanted to demarcate boundaries clearly and did not want the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in Afghanistan. Neither did it want the al-Qaeda in India. However, the bigger issue for the ISI was to keep the Lashkar-e-Tayiba together and ensure that Saeed had no issues with it.
The ISI then called on the operations chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and discussed the plan to attack Mumbai. The meeting was also attended by Saeed and Kashmiri. Following the meeting, it was decided that the entire plan to attack Mumbai be carried out by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. On 26/11 ten terrorists carried out the attack in Mumbai and the rest is history.