DAWN: Using militant actors as tools of foreign policy is a failed strategy

Hafiz Saeed addresses a rally in Lahore (File)

“The fact is that using militant actors as tools of foreign policy is a failed strategy,” the Dawn said in its editorial

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attends a luncheon hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the Heads of Delegation to the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 24, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS) by Li Muzi.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

Pakistan’s popular English newspaper in its editorial calls for a change in foreign policy in the backdrop of jail term and fine for the wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed. The leading newspaper appeals to the Pakistani leadership to rethink their strategy to use religious militants to fulfil their diplomatic agendas.

“The fact is that using militant actors as tools of foreign policy is a failed strategy,” the Dawn said in its editorial on Friday. “This seems to be the understanding at the top in Islamabad. While world powers, including those who are now asking Pakistan to ‘do more’, were at one time proponents of using religious militants against state or non-state opponents, today they have publicly ditched this strategy.

“Moreover, using such proxies has brought nothing but problems for Pakistan, with the UN listing Hafiz Saeed as a terrorist. Besides involvement in foreign theatres, and the ensuing opprobrium this has brought Pakistan, the fact is that LeT/JuD fighters have also contributed to instability within the country. The organisation has maintained links with the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda, as well as with elements that evolved into the Punjabi Taliban. Considering these precedents, it can only be welcomed that Saeed has been sent to prison.

“Another major point that the conviction of the JuD chief raises is that, in Pakistan, militant groups are proscribed while their leaders and cadres continue to operate as per routine,” the newspaper added. “Perhaps the sentencing of Hafiz Saeed will help change this situation.

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ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – January 06, 2019: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (L), stands for a photograph with HE Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan (R), at the Prime Minister’s residence. ( Rashed Al Mansoori / Ministry of Presidential Affairs ) —?

For example, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Musharraf administration outlawed a host of jihadi and sectarian groups, but they continued to operate without hindrance and merely changed their names. The fact is that this country’s jihadi infrastructure — built under Gen Ziaul Haq’s watch with American ‘guidance’ and Saudi money — should have been dismantled a long time ago.

“While the mistakes of the past cannot be undone, a new course can surely be charted by ensuring that no armed groups espousing violence within or outside the country are allowed to operate in Pakistan. This will help improve the country’s standing externally, and help keep the peace domestically.”

The newspaper also welcomed the court verdict on wanted terrorist Hafiz Saeed.

“The verdict on the terror financing cases involving Jamaatud Dawa supremo Hafiz Saeed on Wednesday is a major development as this country tries to dismantle the active militant infrastructure,” the newspaper said. “Saeed was, of course, the driving force behind Lashkar-e-Taiba — before dissociating from it when it was banned to go on to establish JuD. Formed as the US-backed Afghan jihad was winding down in the late 1980s, the Kashmir-centric Lashkar became one of the most violent and well-organised militant groups in South Asia.”

Hafiz Saeed is a co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the chief of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD), operating mainly from Pakistan. In April 2012, the United States announced a bounty of $10 million[8] on Saeed for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 164 civilians. While India supported the US move, there were protests against it in Pakistan.

Saeed is listed on the NIA Most Wanted list and UN designated terrorist. India has banned his organisations LeT and JuD as terrorist organisations. The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Russia and Australia have also banned Lashkar-e-Taiba. India has demanded that Saeed be handed over to them by Pakistan but there is no extradition treaty between the two countries. Saeed has denied ever being a leader of LeT and said allegations that he planned attacks in India were baseless.


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