A little bird told us that these days Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani spends his time reading tarot cards and gazing at a crystal ball, mumbling to himself at times. Okay, that’s bit off the mark — but then don’t blame us for making such a statement. During a recent interview, the prime minister said that there isn’t enough evidence to arrest 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and that even if Saeed is arrested, the courts will release him due to insufficient evidence. Now how did the prime minister know what the “independent” courts of the country would do in case Saeed is arrested? Maybe, he had a premonition, fuelled by the news that the US has set aside $10 million for information on Saeed. Next the interviewer asked Mr Gilani about al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. Unfazed, Mr Gilani posed a counter-question: “Why should I think he (Zawahiri) is in Pakistan?” He added that US should tell him where the Egyptian cleric is hiding to back its claim.
While it is difficult to believe what the prime minister says, he should probably be given the benefit of the doubt. After all, maybe he actually does not know where the cleric, or even Saeed, are. Look at this way: Mr Gilani stays in Islamabad and so it is not easy to keep an eye on shifty characters like Saeed and Zawahiri. It could be that they are like the Scarlet Pimpernel or Zorro. Maybe they show up in different parts of the country and then disappear even before Mr Gilani can say, “Pakro unko!” Moreover, what’s the huge hurry? Didn’t the US take a full 10 years before figuring out where Osama bin Laden was?
While New Delhi may find it difficult to accept such comments, it should not lose much sleep over it. Mr Gilani is just negotiating a fair price for the two prize catches he has got in his kitty. Meanwhile, New Delhi can send off a couple of bureaucrats and peaceniks for a few roundtables to Pakistan. This will keep the tempo going.