Under pressure, Pakistan police plan to arrest Hafiz Saeed


New Delhi/Lahore : With Washington and New Delhi ratcheting up pressure on it over the Mumbai attack probe, the Pakistan police have filed two complaints against suspected terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed ahead of the month-end meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York.

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Police in Faisalabad Thursday lodged two first information reports (FIRs) against Saeed for making a speech to his supporters last month in which he called for jihad or holy war and appealed for funds for the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an Islamic charity India and the US suspect is a front for terror operations and is now banned by the UN.

Police said they plan to arrest Saeed soon.

But given the kind of influence Saeed wields in Pakistan’s political establishment, it’s unlikely Islamabad will give the go-ahead to arrest him.

India has been relentlessly asking Pakistani to take tangible action against Saeed before talks, suspended after the 26/11 attacks, can resume.

Saeed has also been charged under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act for making anti-state speeches.

The cases against Saeed were filed in connection with his visit to Faisalabad Aug 27-28, when police said he had attended iftar dinners and exhorted members of the banned outfit to wage a jehad.

The police move comes barely days before External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna meets his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month. Pakistan’s action against the Mumbai terror suspects will top the agenda.

If Pakistan is able to convincingly demonstrate that it has arrested Saeed, it could be crucial in thawing the deepening freeze in bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

Pakistan has pitched for unconditional resumption of talks, but India has made it clear that meaningful dialogue will not be possible unless Islamabad takes action against the masterminds of the Mumbai mayhem.

The US has also intensified pressure on Pakistan, asking it to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, including Saeed, to justice.

US Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer Friday called for “swift punishment” for architects and perpetrators of the Nov 26 Mumbai mayhem.

“Swift and lengthy punishment for six suspects of Mumbai attacks in Pakistan is important for the US and India,” Roemer told reporters in New Delhi.

The ambassador said it was important for the US, India and the world that Pakistan takes action against Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba-turned-Jamaat-ud-Dawa and dismantle the terror infrastructure in that country, a demand India has been making for long but without much response from the Pakistani side.

“Going after Hafiz Saeed and dismantling terror infrastructure in that region is extremely important for both US and India,” the envoy said.

“It is extremely important that these perpetrators be brought to justice and put behind bars, and receive sentences commensurate with their crimes against India, US and the world,” he said.

The US envoy had made the same point in Mumbai Thursday when he described the Pakistan-based LeT as a “regional and global” threat for the US and India.