Tuesday, June 2, 2009

FRESH OXYGEN TO LET

International Terrorism Monitor -- Paper No. 531
B. Raman

A three-member bench of the Lahore High Court held illegal on June 2, 2009, the house arrest of Prof. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-ToIba (LET), and his associate Col.(retd) Nazir Ahmed and ordered their release. The court has not yet given the reasons for its order. These will be announced later.

2. In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 26-29, 2008, carried out by 10 terrorists of the LET, the Government of Pakistan took two actions. It ordered the arrest of five members of the LET against whom specific evidence of their involvement had been produced by the Government of India. It was reported that the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had also collected independence evidence against them. A case against them has been registered for investigation and prosecution and their judicial remand is being extended from time to time by an Anti-terrorism court of Islamabad. A charge-sheet against them is yet to be filed. Only when the Pakistani authorities do so, can one say definitely how serious are they about their intention to prosecute them and get them convicted.

3. The second action was the placing under house arrest of Prof. Saeed, Nazir Ahmed and some others not on the ground of their involvement in the Mumbai attack, but on the ground that they belonged to an organisation, which had been designated by the counter-terrorism sanctions committee of the UN Security Council as a terrorist organisation. While placing them under house arrest, the Government did not officially ban their organisation as a terrorist set-up.

4. The Review Board set up by the Government to review the legality of the house arrests had upheld the Government decision. However, Prof. Saeed and Nazir Ahmed had challenged their house arrest as illegal before the Lahore High Court. Their lawyer appealed to the court to set aside their house arrest on two grounds. The first was that they were not supplied with the grounds of their house arrest as required under the law within the time-limit laid down. This vitiated the procedure followed. The second ground was that the Government had passed its order of house arrest purely on the basis of the resolution of the UN Sanctions Committee, without any independent evidence of its own necessitating their house arrest.

5. In response to these arguments, the Government contended that it had independent evidence, including evidence of the LET's links with Al Qaeda, and showed the evidence privately to the Bench without sharing it with the lawyers to Sayeed and his associate. The lawyers held this also as illegal since their clients had been deprived of their right to know all the grounds for their house arrest including the evidence on which they were based.

6. It is after considering these arguments that the court has passed the orders for their release. From the way the case was handled from the beginning, it was evident that the Government, while acting against those LET operatives whose involvement in the Mumbai attack was not deniable, wanted to protect Prof. Saeed, his organisation and their terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. The whole case was handled in such a manner as to make their release by the court inevitable.

7. Reports regarding the equal lack of seriousness seen in the other case too against five operatives of the LET for their involvement in the Mumbai attack make it likely that the second case might also meet with a similar fate. International pressure made Pakistan act against Saeed and Nazir Ahmed as well as the five involved in the Mumbai attack. Now, the Pakistan Government calculates that the international pressure will be less because of the appreciation for the strong action it has supposedly taken against the Taliban, which is of greater concern to the US and other countries of the West than the LET. It hopes to take advantage of this for once again ensuring that the LET and its capability for terrorism against India remain unimpaired.

8. Even if it tries to pass a fresh order of house arrest against Saeed and Nazir Ahmed in order to quieten concerns in the West, its intentions and sincerity will continue to be suspect.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

6 comments:

Anjaneya said...

oh my goodness! there is so much happening on the western side that its becoming hard to keep track of the major events without losing perspective. do you think that the western patrons of Pakistan have tacitly allowed Pakistan to keep the pressure on India by continuing to encourage anti India groups? If this is the case, then India seems to be at the fault lines of the plates of international diplomacy! With China encircling India, the west playing its part in destabilising Indian neighbourhood and lack of direction from the Indian government itself, we seem to be fast running out of time to take control of things. As i see it, wont be long before some decisions will have to be taken and who knows another war with our unfriendle neighbours!

Shaan said...

India is a soft state. That is the reason Indians are always taken for a ride. The govt showed off the arrest of these people as a diplomatic victory. What now? For the last 5 years our govt has been acting in the interests of not our country but in the interests of the USA. In return for the jobs outsourced from the US to India, we have outsourced our foreign policy to the Americans. Now these people have been released, does the govt has the guts and talent to finish them off covertly?

Raymond Turney said...

Hi,

As a US citizen who works in the computer industry, I'd like to point out that if the US government has traded a fair amount of the US computer industry to India in exchange for India not objecting to US policy, the trade is to the advantage of India.

India can change its foreign policy tomorrow if it chooses to do so. Reversing the improvement of India's position in the computer industry might be impossible, and will certainly take much longer than changing India's foreign policy.

I'd say the Indian government has tended to act in the interest of the development of India, and fairly effectively, in the last 20 years or so.

As for the Western patrons of Pakistan, I'm a US citizen. The support for Pakistan in the US seems to me to be the result of three things. Since the Taliban is on Pakistan territory, the Pakistani government can offer the opportunity to attack the Taliban and the Indian government cannot. The US has to resupply its forces in Afghanistan and the alternatives to the Pakistani supply line, namely Iran and Russia are even less attractive than Pakistan. Switching from backing Pakistan to backing India would probably irritate China. China has enough foreign currency reserves in US dollars to do a hell of a lot of damage to the US if it were willing to accept some damage to itself. Keeping the dollar strong is more important than picking the right side of the India-Pakistan conflict, if you're trying to prevent the US economy from collapsing.

But I've been going on a bit.

If you want more from me, you can always goto my blog:

http://www.rememberjenkinsear.blogspot.com/

Ray,

Ashok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
captainjohann said...

let LEADER HAFEEZ COULD NOT BE RELEASED BY zARDARI AND CO WITHOUT WINK FROM USA.
Obama is following different ballgame.we must advocate indo/pakistan nuke deal on lines of indo/us nuke deal.

Tote said...

Your nation is cowardly.

600 million in 1,000 years
Hindu Kush

Take out Pakistan, start evening out the debt.