Hafiz Saeed, chief of Jamaat ud Dawa, the parent organization of Lashkar e Taiba, recently led a parade in Lahore to mark Pakistan’s 63rd Independence Day. A few days earlier on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, Hafiz Saeed led the Friday Eid prayers at Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium where he spoke about jihad in Kashmir, Palestine and Burma. According to his twitter feed this is what was said: “Time is near when those oppressed in Kashmir, Palestine and Burma will celebrate ‘Eid’ in the air of Freedom – Insha’Allah. #EidMubarak.” “So, we say Eid Mubarak to you in these testing times; soon world will say Eid Mubarak to you after your triumph. May ALLAH accept.”
As is often the case, Hafiz Saeed’s speech comprised veiled threats of terrorism against the United States, Israel and India. Why was it that someone whom the rest of the world views as “a terrorist mastermind” and “a man with $10 million on his head and implicated in the Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Saeed, is given right in the heart of Lahore at Gaddafi stadium an open space to deliver explosive Eid sermons on jihad, focusing on Kashmir.”
Hafiz Saeed’s high profile has resulted in calls from at least some commentators in the United States to punish Pakistan for allowing him freedom. Writing in Commentary, Michael Rubin went to the extent of saying that ‘It is Time to Cut Off Pakistan.’
We could, as has been the case in the past, dismiss all the criticism against Hafiz Saeed as a conspiracy. Islamo-nationalists will likely declare it a “Yahood-o-Hanood ki saazish” –‘conspiracy of the Jews and Hindus.’ But we should adopt much needed realism and face facts.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is an internationally recognized terrorist group, legally banned even in Pakistan. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is just a fig leaf for this terrorist organization. And Hafiz Saeed is seen by the world as a terrorist mastermind, whatever the semantics in the Pakistani media to absolve him of that title.
Pakistanis need peace and stability, for that we need good ties with neighbors and the great powers. Why do we allow someone who is intent on hurting our foreign ties to roam freely and give speeches? Hafiz Saeed’s view on India is “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”
At Fridays sermons for the last few years Saeed has repeatedly called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”
If Pakistan wants to de-escalate tensions with India on Line of Control (LoC) then why do we allow these things to happen. Those who still view these non-state jihadi groups as assets should heed warnings like those made by Pakistani analyst and author of a new book on Lashkar e Taiba, titled “Call for Transnational Jihad,” by Arif Jamal. According to Mr Jamal it is an illusion that Lashar e Taiba will always stand by the Pakistani state. “LeT will pose a far-bigger danger and challenge to [Pakistan] than all other groups combined. They want to wage jihad in Pakistan as well one day.”