Ex-CIA top official alarmed by Hafiz Saeed’s release

RSTV Bureau
Lahore: Hafiz Saeed waves to his supporters at a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 after his release from jail.  Photo - AP/PTI

Lahore: Hafiz Saeed waves to his supporters at a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 after his release from jail.
Photo – AP/PTI

Hafiz Saeed’s release by the Pakistan authorities continues to draw an all-round criticism in US, with former Deputy Director of CIA saying he has a “blood on his hand”. The Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief and the founder of terror outfit LeT has a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities.

Hafiz Saeed is also wanted in India for masterminding dastardly Mumbai terror attack besides other acts of terror.

“Saeed is a terrorist. Worked with the LeT, a Kashmiri militant group, and al-Qaida on attacks,” Michael Morell, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deputy director, who has also served twice as its acting director, said in a tweet.

“He has blood on his hands. Now wants to bring extremism into the political mainstream in Pakistan,” he said after Saeed, a UN and US designated terrorist, was released from house arrest in
Lahore.

Hafiz Saeed, in his late 60s, who was under house arrest for 297 days since January, was released by Pakistan authorities on Friday. A deeply concerned US has asked the Pakistan government to re-arrest Hafiz Saeed.

The fire-brand cleric’s release after midnight came ahead of the 9th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed.

American press pack too reacted sharply against his release.

“NO! JuD is NOT tied to Islamic State. What a rookie… Seriously. Hafiz Saeed’s Release Completes the Political Mainstreaming of Jihadists in Pakistan,” tweeted Christine Fair, a well-known South Asian expert on terrorist groups.

NBC news said Saeed’s release could once again sour US relations with Pakistan.

The New York Times said, for decades, Pakistan has cast a benign eye on groups like LeT which is perceived as an asset because its attacks target Indian soldiers in Kashmir even as the government battles jihadist groups like the Pakistan Taliban that directly threatens the country.

“But despite its pressure on Pakistan to move against militants like Saeed, the United States has also sent mixed messages. Just a month ago, the United States Senate struck down a provision tying American government funding to Pakistan to the country’s efforts to curb Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operations,” the Times wrote.

Meanwhile, in an op-ed, The Washington Examiner said the Trump administration “should work with India” to “capture or kill” Saeed.

“Trump should call Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and offer to work with him to capture or kill Saeed,” the daily said, adding that Saeed intends to lead a new Muslim theocratic political bloc in next year’s parliamentary polls.

“Although Pakistan’s electoral commission has refused to certify the bloc, Saeed’s populist power should not be understated. Charismatic and determined, if left unchecked in his political party or terrorist activities, Saeed could destabilise the region,” the daily added.

(With inputs from PTI)