Asia-Pacific

Op-ed

Hafiz Saeed: Impediment to a Peaceful Kashmir

Hafiz Saeed in March.

Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack and the chief of Pakistan-based the so-called "socio-cultural organization" Jama'at-Ud-Da'wah, is well known for his anti-India stance. Spewing venom against India and conspiring against it is usual for Saeed. From encouraging terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir to masterminding the 26/11 attack, he has been involved in many such activities that have time and again come in the way of normalizing bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, contributing to the deterioration of ties. But when it comes to catch hold of this terrorist, the Pakistan government is always found wanting. His free movement in Pakistan, hate speeches against India and criticism of Indo-Pak peace efforts compel the Pak government to give it a thought. 

Establishments of both countries used the Indo-Pak semi-final Cricket World Cup match as an initiative of "cricket diplomacy" to normalize ties. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited his Pak counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the match in Mohali. Gilani accepted this invitation and visited Mohali with a high-level delegation. The leaders held wide-ranging discussions and called the meeting "meaningful and positive." Pakistan lost this match to India, but both sides gained. The step taken forward in the direction of peace was welcomed by the people of both countries.

In fact, not only the people and governments of both countries, but also the international community is of the view that both these nuclear-armed neighbors should have normal and healthy ties. Tension between them can be dangerous not only for South Asia, but for the entire world. But Hafiz Saeed, who calls himself the well-wisher of the Muslims of Pakistan and the world, cannot digest peace between India and Pakistan. While Prime Minister Gilani along with his Cabinet colleagues and officials was touring India, this proven terrorist was warning the Pak government in front of Pakistani Parliament against making peace with India. Pakistan establishment seems helpless to act against him. Taking advantage of this impotence of the Pak government, Saeed successfully carries out his anti-India activities.

Recently, a famous cleric of Jammu and Kashmir, Maulana Showkat Ali Ahmed Shah, was killed by terrorists. Notably, he was among those peace-loving people who opposed and condemned last year's notorious premeditated acts of stone pelting by people against security forces in the Indian part of Kashmir. These stone throwers had the support of secessionists and terrorists. Hence, it can be concluded who was behind Maulana's assassination in Srinagar. In a hypocritical show of sympathy with Indian Kashmiris, his funeral prayers in absentia were offered in Islamabad near the Press Club. This Press Club is not far from the Parliament of Pakistan. These prayers were conducted by none other than Hafiz Saeed. On this occasion, many leaders of Jama'at-Ud-Da'wah delivered venomous speeches against India and warned the Pak government against normalizing relations with India.

Saeed asserted that the Kashmir problem can never be solved by talks between India and Pakistan. He accused India of human rights violation in Kashmir. He said the Pakistan government should review its Kashmir policy and should not enter into any kind of agreement with India. Rubbishing the Indo-Pak cricket diplomacy, he said, "These so-called trade and friendship efforts have no value. We are with the Kashmiri people and will continue to give our full support until they are free." The venue for this anti-India rhetoric was so close to the Pakistani Parliament that Saeed was clearly audible there. He appealed to the members of Parliament not to support peacemaking efforts with India. He contended that the Russians could not control Afghanistan and now the United States is looking for a way out of the region, so India can't control Kashmir for long.

This kind of rhetoric lays bare Saeed's objectives and intents. That Saeed was the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack has been proven by the confession of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive. By not arresting or restraining Saeed, the Pakistan government seems to be supporting his mission of creating an anti-India atmosphere in Pakistan. In guise of providing social service through madrasas and hospitals, Saeed is increasing his popularity among the masses, especially among the followers of a particular ideology. He keeps on misleading the Pakistanis. The presence of terrorists like Saeed and their destructive thoughts and acts have not only isolated Pakistan from the world, many countries are in fact talking about declaring Pakistan a "terrorist state." With active support of such elements, the Taliban has strengthened its grip on Pakistan. And thanks to these inhuman forces, the West gets an excuse to interfere in the region. The Pakistani establishment, its people and Muslims of the world need to ponder whether a communal fanatic like Hafiz Saeed is a true Muslim or an enemy of mankind.

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