Feeling the heat from the US, Pakistan has finally acknowledged that the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks Hafiz Saeed also poses a serious threat to the country.
Justifying the house arrest and listing of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief under an anti-terrorism law, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told a security conference in Germany Sunday that Saeed’s arrest was in the greater interest of the country, the Nation reported.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Mahmoodur Rasheed said Asif was speaking as if he was the defense minister of India, not Pakistan.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup cautiously welcomed the move against Saeed, saying he hoped it was the start of a process by which Saeed will be brought to book.
Saeed was put under house arrest on January 30 in Lahore. Later, he was barred from leaving the country.
Participating in a panel discussion in Munich, Asif said terrorism is not exclusively linked to any one religion. While Pakistan will continue its fight against terrorism, the West’s isolationist policies will only fuel terror, he said.
Six people were killed in a suicide blast and shooting by terrorists outside a court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Tuesday. Over 80 people died in an attack on a Sufi shrine in Sindh recently.
The house arrest and travel ban on Saeed has sparked protests in Pakistan. This is the sixth time he has been arrested. The first arrest happened after the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 which left over 160 people dead.
Saeed carries a reward of US$10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities.
His younger brother Hafiz Masood said India and the US pressured Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to put Saeed under house arrest.
In an interview with Indian channel CNN News 18, Masood said Sharif was under pressure from Modi to act against Saeed.
This suits India’s terrorism narrative to distract world attention from police and military atrocities on civilians in Kashmir, Masood said.
Saeed, a symbol of the freedom movement in Kashmir, and his party are under close watch by the local Punjab government, Masood said, adding he is unable to meet his brother because of lengthy procedures involved.
Indian political observers are having a “wait and watch approach” on how Pakistan is going to deal with Saeed and JuD.
Nitin Gokhale, a security analyst, told CNN News 18 that Pakistan is under pressure from the “unpredictable” Donald Trump.