New Delhi: India on Thursday described the arrest of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist group chief Hafiz Saeed a day earlier as “drama" and hoped that he would be genuinely brought to justice for his involvement in many terrorist attacks against India, most notably the 2008 Mumbai terrorist strike.
In his weekly foreign office briefing, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar noted that Saeed was one of the terrorists listed by the United Nations.
“This is not the first time that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested or detained. This drama has taken place at least eight times since 2001," Kumar said, referring to the time Saeed was first picked up after an attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001.
“The question is whether this time it would be more than a cosmetic exercise and whether Saeed will be tried and sentenced for his terrorist activities," Kumar said in a sharply worded response.
“We reiterate that Hafiz Saeed is a designated terrorist, the mastermind of (2008) Mumbai terror attacks and listed by the United Nations Sanctions Committee under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267. Effective action mandated internationally against Hafiz Saeed and his terrorist organizations is an obligation on the part of all UN member states, including Pakistan," Kumar said.
India’s comments follow Pakistani authorities registering cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act in Lahore, Gujranwala and Multan against the leadership of banned outfits like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the LeT and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF). The arrests follow warnings by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which seeks to stem the flow of money to terrorist networks. Pakistan is already on the FATF’s “grey list" and has been warned that it could be put on its “black list."
Saeed’s detention comes days before Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan travels to the US for his first face-to-face meeting with President Donald Trump.
In his comments, Kumar said that Saeed and his organisations, the LeT and the religious charity JuD, recruit and train many thousands of people, motivating and indoctrinating them “on a violent agenda against India."
“Pakistan’s sincerity to take action against terrorists and terror groups will be judged on the basis of their ability to demonstrate verifiable, credible and irreversible actions against terrorists and to disrupt and dismantle terror groups operating from their soil. We hope that this time Hafiz Saeed will genuinely be brought to justice," he added.
Asked to comment on a Twitter post by Trump on Wednesday that Saeed’s arrest came after a 10-year search, Kumar said the comment needed to be seen against the backdrop of counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the US. India and the US had in recent years been working closely on counter-terrorism, he said, noting that the joint statement issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first meeting with Trump in June 2017 had referred to such cooperation.
In a post late Wednesday, Trump had said: “After a ten year search, the so-called ‘mastermind’ of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan. Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!" The post attracted a lot of attention with many Twitter users pointing out that Saeed had been living in Pakistan quite openly. In its post, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the 2008 terrorist attack mastermind had been living freely in Pakistan and there was no search operation under way for ten years, as stated by Trump.
The US had in April 2012 announced a $10 million bounty for information leading to Saeed’s arrest.