The surprise arrest of Jamaatud Dawah Amir Hafiz Saeed sent a clear message that military and civilian leaders were serious when they said that extremist groups would be handled with no preferences given. However, as they saying goes, the proof of pudding is in the eating. Having taken the decision to arrest Hafiz Saeed, the state’s credibility is now at stake in how the case is handled.
China, who according to military insiders is the one who pressured for the arrest, will surely be watching how the case is handled. If it is another example of saying one thing while doing another, or if the state has actually turned a corner from differentiating between ‘Good Taliban’ and ‘Bad Taliban’.
Already there are signs that the JUD chief is being given special treatment. Who can forget the infamous raid of Nine-Zero and the treatment of MQM workers by agencies?
Compare to case of Hafiz Saeed who day after his arrest was releasing videos on social media.
When agencies raided MQM HQ, leaders were taken into custody and remanded for months on end where they were even tortured to death. When Hafiz Saeed was arrested, his own house was declared sub-jail so that he does not face any inconvenience.
Most importantly to note is that JuD has already pulled the same trick that it has always used by getting ‘banned’ to appease some foreign ally and immediately reemerging under a new name while continuing exactly the same activities. Does GHQ believe Beijing is as stupid and blind as America to fall for this trick also?
DG-ISPR officially stated that the arrest was ‘in the national interest.’ This is important because what happens next will speak volumes about how seriously institutions are taking ‘the national interest’ or whether it is nothing but another code word for telling everyone to shut up. So far, there is not much to be hopeful about.
Earlier this year, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar warned that “no Non-Government Organisation (NGO) working against the country’s national interest will be allowed to continue its work in Pakistan”. According to the Minister, “government cannot compromise on national interest”. This sounds very good, but it is interesting to note certain NGOs that have been allowed to continue working and ask what does this mean about how we define “national interest”. This is of particular interest when we observe how Jamaat-ud-Dawa is not only allowed to operate, but works hand in hand with Army.
On Monday, a group of militants dressed in Indian Army uniforms carried out a deadly attack in Indian Punjab. It is too early to know who was behind the attack, but speculation has already begun. Indian media has predictably laid the blame squarely on Pakistan, while here we have been hearing reports that it was actually a revolt by Indian Sikh separatists. Seven people were killed before Indian security forces killed the three attackers in a battle that was drawn out as India was trying to capture the attackers alive. However, as much as India has suffered from this attack, Pakistan has also suffered, and will continue to suffer until we can raise the courage to face the disturbing reality.
Government gave what has to be one of the weakest excuses for not going after a jihadi group today. According to Minister for States and Frontier Region retired Gen Abdul Qadir, Jamaat-ud-Dawa will not be proscribed even though it has been termed a terrorist group by the United Nations because the UN did not share any evidence against with Pakistan. This is the same excuse that was given by government when the world said that Osama bin Laden was believed to be living in Pakistan. It’s the same excuse that government gave when Iran complained of militants carrying out cross-border attacks. Each time someone points to jihadis the government says, “show us the evidence!” And each time we end up eating our words. Osama bin Laden is discovered in Abbottabad. Jihadis kill Iranian soldiers. And Jamaat-ud-Dawa holds public rallies to recruit fighters and raise money for weapons for jihad. Hafiz Saed openly tells that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is carrying out jihad in Kashmir, something he says is the official policy of Pakistan government. He has also declared jihad against Israel, and his group has openly set up camps in Gaza. But still we keep saying “show us the evidence” as if we are deaf, dumb, and blind.
We know what Jamaat-ud-Dawa is, and yet we continue pretending that we don’t. So the question remains unanswered whether our inaction against jihadis is due to our being unable or unwilling. With Osama bin Laden, we have decided on incompetence as our excuse. Will we do the same with Hafiz Saeed? Or should we just be honest and admit that we support his jihad? After all, we’re already funding it.
16th December was supposed to be a turning point. The brutal massacre of hundreds of innocent children at APS Peshawar had finally awoken the nation and united our resolve to defeat the real enemy – the jihadi extremists that had killed tens of thousands of Pakistanis since the last ten years. It is almost six months since that black day, and where are we now? The truth is not encouraging.