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Opinion

Lashkar’s boss, Hafiz Saeed, is serving time at home. Imran Khan’s government calls it jail

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Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba sanctioned by the UN Security Council, is not serving a sentence in jail, but at his Johar Town home in Lahore from where he runs the terror group, according to people familiar with the affair.

Saeed was formally placed under arrest in July 2019, months before being sentenced to 10 years and six months in jail in a terrorist financing case in February this year that was described by the United States as an “important step forward.” Last week, Saeed received another series of jail terms in two more terrorist financing cases.

Hafiz Saeed’s arrest and subsequent conviction have been seen as an effort by the Imran Khan government to stay off the Financial Action Task Force’s ‘blacklist’ that could entail extensive economic sanctions and, as the first Minister Imran Khan, destroy Pakistan’s economy. .

But Indian intelligence information accessed by the Hindustan Times indicates that Hafiz Saeed is not in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat high-security prison, as had been widely publicized. “He is mostly at home … apparently in protective custody that even allows him to receive guests,” said an intelligence official.

Also read: Pak rubs it on, allows Lashkar to face prayer meeting sked by 10 terrorists

Last month, according to intelligence information, Saeed’s visitor at home was Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief operational commander and head of LeT’s jihad wing. The meeting is known to have focused on some steps they needed to take to raise funds for the jihad.

Like Saeed, Lakhvi is also a UNSC designated terrorist and is the main conspirator in the Mumbai terrorist attacks of 11/26. He has been arrested more than once by the Pakistani security forces for terrorism under international pressure, but like his boss Hafiz Saeed, he has always been released due to lack of evidence. Indian officials said it was Lakhvi who persuaded, guided and managed Pakistani-born US citizen David Headley for reconnaissance missions in India prior to the 11/26 attacks.

Pakistani observers in New Delhi said that intelligence that Hafiz Saeed was not being held in prison was in line with a pattern about Islamabad’s record of dealing with terrorists. One of them admitted that they were initially shocked when Hafiz Saeed was convicted for the first time in 10 years and six months and had tentatively interpreted it to indicate that Saeed had outlived his usefulness to the deep state of Pakistan. Saeed had been arrested multiple times since the September 11 attacks, but was always released after the pressure eased.

Indian officials said they were still unclear on how Pakistan had handled the paperwork on Hafiz Saeed’s custody.

“Our understanding based on the information available is that this may be an informal arrangement. We don’t know if there is a formal order notifying Hafiz Saeed’s house as a prison, ”the intelligence official quoted above said.

Also read: ‘We spent millions on JuD’, Pak minister admits funding of banned terrorist organization

In the 12 years since 10 heavily armed terrorists arrived in Mumbai from Pakistan and opened fire in various locations on November 26, Islamabad, despite its many promises, has not investigated or taken any real action against the Lashkar terrorists. e-Taiba who planned the attacks together with military officers serving in the Pakistan Intelligence Service.

In total, 170 people, in addition to the 4 sailors from a trawler ‘MV Kuber’ hijacked by terrorists, were killed and 304 injured in the simultaneous attacks by terrorists on Mumbai Taj Mahal hotel, Oberoi Trident hotel, terminal Chhatrapati Shivaji, Bed. Hospital, Chabad House, Albless Hospital, near Metro Cinema and Leopold Cafe area.

Ajmal Kasab, the only terrorist captured alive, faced trial and was sentenced to death in May 2010. He was finally executed in Pune’s Yerwada Prison on November 21, 2012.

Also Read: For Global Terrorist Hafiz Saeed’s ‘Living Expenses’, Pak Goes To UNSC With Request

But terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Lakhvi who planned and coordinated the attacks together with Pakistani military officials have gone unpunished.

It was this reliance on the deep state of Pakistan, Pakistani observers said, that Saeed had mocked the United States when he first announced the $ 10 million reward for his whereabouts in 2012. “I’m ready to send information on my location daily, ”said a cheeky Hafiz Saeed at a press conference shortly after, asking the United States to send him the money.

Hindustan Times

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