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House arresting terrorist Hafiz Saeed: A well-thought out ploy of Nawaz Sharif
Mastermind of Mumbai attacks (2008) and chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Hafiz Saeed, is placed under house arrest since January 30,2017 in Lahore.

Initially, Hafiz Saeed, along with his four accomplices viz Prof Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid, Qazi Kashif Hussain and Abdullah Ubaid, had been placed under house arrest by the Punjab (Pakistan) government and taken into 'protective custody' for 90 days under the Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 for his involvement in activities "prejudicial to peace and security".

Again on April 30, 2017 their detention was extended for another 90 days. Apparently, Nawaz Sharif's decision to put Hafiz Saeed and some of his associates had the backing of Pakistan Army, which inter alia, called it a "policy decision taken in the national interest".

Notably, before his arrest, Hafiz Saeed was allowed to address a press conference at his Lahore residence, in which he claimed that orders to detain him had come from the United States and by placing him under house arrest, so-called Kashmir movement would not be checked and his arrest would give a fresh impetus to the so-called Kashmiris' struggle against India. He added that his arrest was also a result of "bonhomie" between Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hafiz Saeed and 37 of his associates were also placed on the Exit Control List (ECL), barring them from leaving the country.

Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while commenting on the house arrest of Hafeez Saeed had claimed that his government was fulfilling its obligations under United Nations Security Council's resolutions. However, issue of Hafiz Saeed and his four lieutenants' detention was being heard by a division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC). Hafiz Saeed was also earlier put under house arrest after Mumbai attacks in 2008, but later freed in 2009.

However, the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed by the Pakistan government did not deter JuD from its "unlawful" activities and within a few days of his arrest, JuD was renamed as 'Tehreek Azadi Jammu and Kashmir' (TAJK) to expedite the "freedom of Kashmir". Since early February of 2017, TAJK also started using social media to carry on JuD's propaganda on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Khalid Waleed, son-in -law of Hafiz Saeed and a Deputy General of TAJK revealed (Lahore, February 4, 2017) that counter -terrorism department of Punjab (Pakistan) had cracked down on offices of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its so-called charitable outfit Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation((FIF) at various places in Punjab (Pakistan) including Faisalabad, Gojra, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Chiniot, Jhang and Sargodha.

Notably, Talha Saeed, son of Hafeez Saeed, has reportedly taken over the reins from his father. In one of his videos of late March 2017, Talha Saeed was noticed addressing a well-attended anti-Indian gathering in Pakistan, wherein he declared that their Kashmir movement was unstoppable and claimed that Pakistan was working "hand in gloves" with terrorists and JuD would revive its fight for Kashmir. Incidentally, Talha Saeed is also on USA's terrorist list of 2012 and accused of being the mastermind of 2013 fidayeen attack on the CRPF camp in Srinagar and then an attack on the BSF convoy on Udhampur in 2015.

Incidentally, a week before his arrest, Hafiz Saeed had hinted the launching of TAJK indicating that information of putting him under house arrest and banning JuD had been leaked to him.

After his arrest and crackdown on JuD, Hafiz Saeed made his brother-in-law and the second in command of JuD, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki as chief of JuD. Thereafter, Makki has led over half-a-dozen anti-Nawaz Sharif and pro-Kashmir rallies in Lahore and other parts of Punjab (Pakistan) in protest of Hafeez Saeed's detention.

However, on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day (February 5, 2017), activists of JuD and FIF held pro-Kashmir rallies in Lahore and other places of Punjab (Pakistan), which according to Makki, could not convey the message of solidarity powerfully and in an encouraging note due to Hafiz Saeed remaining under house arrest.

Later, Makki also lashed out at Pakistan Army and claimed that it was a puppet at the hands of JuD. He also added that former Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif was heading Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance due to support of JuD. He slammed Pakistan Army and General Parvez Musharraf and claimed that JuD had forced him to flee from the country. Makki warned it was JuD which had kicked out USA and Afghanistan and defatted NATO, would now destroy India.

Following the house arrest of Hafiz Saeed, Pakistani media speculated that he had been arrested after pressure on Nawaz Sharif was put, earlier by the Obama government and then by the Trump administration, warning the Pakistani government that USA might place sanctions against Pakistan if action was not taken against Hafiz Saeed.

Incidentally, before President Trump's coming into power, USA had already banned and two terror outfits and one so-called charitable outfit of Hafiz Saeed viz Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) & Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) and also placed bounty worth US$10 million on him. Pakistan government's Interior Ministry, on the recommendation of Pakistan Foreign Ministry had also placed all three said outfits of Hafiz Saeed under "terror watch list".

Meanwhile, a section of Pakistani media also reported that Hafiz Saeed was arrested after intense pressure on Pakistan by China as it wanted successful execution of over US$ 55 billion worth projects in Pakistan under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China had feared that although Hafiz Saeed did not pose any direct threat to CPEC, but his extreme anti-Indian activities, particularly in Kashmir, might cause tension between Pakistan and India, adversely effecting the execution of CPEC projects.

Incidentally, with in just a few days of Hafiz Saeed's arrest, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping, who is also chief of external security affairs and terrorism, had visited Pakistan and discussed Pakistan's efforts made in counter terrorism as China was also concerned about links between Pakistani terror groups and separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and terror activities in Xinjiang province of China.

However, China denied (Beijing, February 3, 2017) putting any pressure on Pakistan to arrest Hafiz Saeed. Spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang also asserted that China supported Pakistan in its "independently" making decisions on counter-terrorism and international cooperation on counter-terrorism.

By putting Hafiz Saeed under house arrest, Nawaz Sharif also achieved his own political goals both internationally as well domestically. Since Pakistan had been losing credibility over fighting terrorism and getting internationally isolated, Nawaz Sharif wanted to take action against Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Masood in the last leg of anti-militancy army operation 'Zerb-e-Azb' but the then army Chief General Sharif did not want to open another front against terrorists in Punjab (Pakistan) before his retirement in November 2016.

Furthermore, after revelation that Sharif and his family members were involved in corruption in the 'Panama Papers' episode, he feared about his dipping popularly at the domestic front and took action against Hafiz Saeed in a bid to improve his image in the country as a tough prime minister.

Thus, by taking action against Hafiz Saeed with the backing of Pakistan Army, Nawaz Shari has not only improved his image domestically, but in the eyes of USA and China as well. With this ploy, he has also attempted to counter India's perception about Pakistan being a major source of international terrorism at the international level.

How far Nawaz Sharif succeeds in maintaining his new image of a tough prime minister against terrorism would depend on the extent of support he gets from the Pakistan Army. Meanwhile, India has rightly described Hafiz Saeed's arrest as just a "game".

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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