Hafiz Saeed speaks to gathering during an anti-American and Indian rally on the grounds of the Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore December 18, 2011. About 30,000 Islamists staged a protest on Sunday to condemn the United States and show support for Pakistan's military, which has reasserted itself after a cross-border Nato attack and a controversial memo that has weakened the civilian government. Reuters/Mohsin Raza
Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Pakistani charity fronting for Lashkar-e-Taiba, predictably dismissed US designating it a terrorist organisation saying it “has no value for us”.
Pakistan, which hosts the Lashkar with its many fronts and branches and uses them for terrorist strikes against India, reacted with equal disdain, almost echoing Jamaat.
The US on Wednesday designated Jamaat and three other Lashkar fronts: Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal as “foreign terrorist organization.”
It also named Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry and Muhammad Hussein Gill, leaders of Lashkar, which, the US said, was involved in the May 23 attack on India’s mission in Herat. “US restrictions have no value for us,” said Jamaat chief Hafiz Saeed.
“JuD is an independent Pakistani organisation taking part in the promotion of education and relief operations. It is only serving the Pakistani people,” Saeed added.
Read: US names JuD as terror outfit, sanctions 2 LeT leaders
“Americans don’t have any independent thought... they are stupid. They have been unleashing a negative propaganda campaign against us at the behest of India,” he added. And Pakistan PM’s security and foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz told HT, “America keeps doing this all the time, there is nothing new about it.”
“If the US takes action, doesn’t mean we have to also take action.” Pakistan will do nothing, indeed. And Saeed will remain free. In fact, his first reaction to the announcement of the reward for his arrest in 2012 was to mock it on TV.
Despite widespread cynicism about such actions, they do help, argues Arif Jamal, US-based author of newly released book “Call For Transnational Jihad: Lashkar-e-Taiba 1985-2014”.
Read: LeT attacked Indian consulate in Herat: US
In the short term, he said, “such actions make it a little more difficult for these groups to operate at the international level”. Their leaders are unable to travel abroad to seek funding. And transfer of funds from other countries to them in Pakistan or becomes costlier and riskier through legitimate channels.
“The most important result of such designations is that they turn all so called wars of liberation such as jihad in Kashmir in which JuD participates into terrorist acts,” said Jamal.
“In the past, many in the West looked at the jihad in Kashmir as a freedom struggle,” he said. And some, like David Headley, a Pakistani-American, would join up to help.
(With agency inputs form Lahore)