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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Trump praises himself in Hafiz Saeed tweet, experts say Pak pulled a fast one

Former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani pointed out that finding Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed was never an issue and that he has been arrested and released many times over.

world Updated: Jul 17, 2019 23:53 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
President Donald Trump’s tweet hailing the arrest of  terrorist Hafiz Saeed came ahead of his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.
President Donald Trump’s tweet hailing the arrest of terrorist Hafiz Saeed came ahead of his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.(REUTERS)
         

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday welcomed the arrest of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head and Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed saying “great pressure was applied over the last two years to find him”, when the terrorist kingpin was not exactly in hiding and had, in fact, been released by Pakistani authorities in November 2017..

The President’s tweet came as the White House prepares to receive Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan for the two leaders’ meeting on Monday.

“After a ten year search, the so-called “mastermind” of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan,” President Trump wrote on Twitter. “Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!”

 

Veteran Pakistan experts and watchers, however, were quick to point to a problem in the post. Saeed who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba which carried out the 26/11 Mumbai attack, was not in hiding.

“Finding him was never an issue,” tweeted Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States. “He operated freely and was highly visible. He has been arrested and released many times over. @POTUS shd immediately fire whoever gave him the wrong information.”

 

Saeed was released from house arrest in November 2017, drawing a sharp rebuke and warning from the United States.

“The United States strongly condemns the release of Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed from house arrest in Pakistan and calls for his immediate re-arrest and prosecution,” the White House press secretary’s office had said in a statement.

WATCH | ‘Hafiz Saeed’s arrest aimed to satisfy FATF’: Expert | HT Conversations

Islamabad disregarded the threat, and President Trump announced the suspension of all security-related aid to Pakistan after a few weeks in the new year.

Saeed has been arrested and released several times, “usually just before high level visits by US officials to Pakistan or Pakistani officials to the US”, said a Pakistan expert.

The LeT founder was also detained soon after 9/11, for instance, and the Mumbai attacks to “appease the Americans”. He has never been brought to trial and has been allowed to operate freely, despite a $10 million American bounty for information leading to his arrest and prosecution. He has even tried to mainstream himself by contesting elections.

“There is no evidence or reason to believe that things will be different this time around,” the expert said, adding, “Pakistan supports and protects anti-India militants as an instrument of policy and has shown no interest in giving it up.

In fact, it was pointed out, Pakistan’s generals and politicians from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party have praised Hafiz Saeed until recently.

“Clearly they are trying an old trick on a new US president,” the expert added.

First Published: Jul 17, 2019 21:57 IST

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