What’s on Indo-Pak Agenda?

By Afshain Afzal

The Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed the government’s appeal against the release of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) leader, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and on 25 May 2010, upholding the Lahore High Court decision to set him free from preventive detention. It is generally being seen as a setback to the normalization efforts for Indo-Pakistan relations. The fact cannot be denied that Mujahideen leaders like Hafiz Saeed had been issuing provocative statements like waging war against Indian forces in Indian held Jammu and Kashmir state but does such slogans render them to be put on gallows. It is interesting to note that India claims that it has provided heaps of evidences against Hafiz Saeed but Islamabad is reluctant to act against said religious leader. India claims that Pakistan is doing so because Hafiz Saeed is linked with Inter services Intelligence (ISI), who considers him as a strategic asset who can be used against India. Ironically, the heap of evidences which India claims to be sufficient proof against Hafiz Saeed are alleged statements of convicted militant Ajmal Amir Kasab, which he denied before Indian Maharashtra Organized Crime Control Act (MOCCA) court. We need to be realistic that if our courts start entertaining such oral statements, what if tomorrow a militant confirms his links with personalities like Prime Minister, President and Indian Army’s top brass. In such a case, would New Delhi accept the authenticity of such evidences?

New Delhi has officially expressed its disappointment over the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision. In the same regard, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao while expressing disappointment over the quashing of appeals by the Pakistan Supreme Court against Hafiz Saeed’s acquittal has expressed Pakistan’s.non-commitment to issues New Delhi had been raising. India is also planning to raise the issue of Hafiz Saeed at SAARC Interior Ministers’ conference scheduled on June 26 and Foreign Ministers’ level talks between the two countries on July 15, 2010. One thing which India is probably forgetting that judiciary in Pakistan is independent and is not under the command of any ministry or authority. It is pertinent to mention here that India has so far provided some 10 dossiers to Pakistan, linking elements in Pakistan with planning and executing November 26, 2008, Mumbai attacks in which more than 183 persons were killed. Out of the ten dossiers, three of them were handed over to Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Salman Bashir at meeting in New Delhi on February 25, 2010. The dossiers contain confessions made by Ajmal Amir Kasab, call record of satellite phones used by the militants along with transcripts of conversation, claimed to be between the Mumbai attackers and their Lashkar-eTayyiaba (LeT) handlers in Pakistan, log book recovered from fishing trawler “MV Kuber” and a made in Peshawar pistol and its rounds. Ironically, what is missing in the dossier is the transcript of conversation between Mumbai attackers and Indian media personnel and the Indian authorities. The information contained in these dossiers seems to be mere literature and stories about Pakistan’s involvement in Mumbai attacks.

If we recall, Hafiz Saeed was detained in December 2008 after JuD was banned in a resolution passed United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Interestingly, Islamabad did not attempt to block the resolution in good faith to normalize relation with India but India took it as weakness of Pakistan and mounted additional pressures. It is strange that despite Pakistan actions against its own people on the basis on hearsay from New Delhi, India is not satisfied that Pakistan has not done enough. It is interesting to note that few days back, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while reacting on Hindu extremists’ involvement in terrorism said, “”Our government’s policy is whatever may be the source of terrorism, whether it is Muslim involvement or Hindu involvement, I think we must tackle that problem effectively.” He added that his government was determined to tackle the threat of terrorism and ideological extremism of various kinds. We have before us the Indian court’s decision acquitting Faheem Ansari and Sahabuddin Ahmed against whom Indian Police had provided heaps of evidences including recovered map which was used by militants involved in Mumbai attacks. No doubt, these two Indians were innocent but if court had acted on the sentiments of general public or the factious evidences furnished by Indian Police, today, many people had lost trust in Indian courts. India must give a patience thought about Kashmiri freedom fighters like Hafiz Muhammad Saeed who are not terrorists but symbols to remind New Delhi that its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir state is illegal and that plebiscite on the basis of UNSC resolutions is the only solution to resolve the Kashmir issue. If India would try to make issue of Hafiz Saeed life and death, Pakistan would also raise human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir, unlawful confinment of Muslim political prisoners and repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers Act) in occupied Jammu and Kashmir state. New Delhi is presently on the right track by coming out of preconceived mindset but by indulging in issues like Hafiz Saeed that can be taken up otherwise separately; the atmosphere for talks would be polluted leading to failure to restore trust deficit and suspicions. It is right time for both countries not to act on new issues and concentrate on building trust and confidence to achieve common objective of peace and friendship.


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