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India: Pakistan govt. giving Saeed ‘legitimacy’ by helping rally

SUHASINI HAIDAR

Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed

Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed

Accusing the Pakistan government of giving Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed “legitimacy,” government sources said a rally being held in Lahore by the group accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks was being viewed with “concern” in India. Home Ministry sources said the government was keeping an eye not only on the rally on Thursday and Friday, but also on the kind of facilitation the government in Pakistan was giving it.

Pakistan news agencies have quoted Saeed describing the elaborate arrangements for the two-day ‘Ijtima’ of the organisation, including setting up a “tent-city” at Pakistan’s national monument: the ‘Minaar-e-Pakistan, and commissioning two special trains to bring in supporters from the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Hyderabad. In addition, hundreds of buses are bringing in cadres of the group from other parts of the country, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. JuD leaders told the press that at least 70 tents had been erected across Lahore to house more than one lakh people at the rally. While the Indian government has made no official statement yet, officials called the assistance being provided by the Pakistan government to the JuD rally as “blatant disregard of the international norms of zero tolerance of terrorism.”

The JuD is a banned terror group on the U.N. Security Council list, and Saeed is accused as the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks in India, while the U.S. government has raised a $10 million bounty for “evidence that leads to his conviction.” Officials also told The Hindu any assistance to the group or to Saeed would qualify as a “violation of the UNSC’s financial sanctions,” as both the JuD and the welfare arm, the Falah I insaniyat, like parent terror group the Lashkar-e-Taiba, are listed as al-Qaeda associates and terrorist entities.“If the Pakistan government followed the U.N. sanctions, there should be a financial assets freeze on both JuD and Saeed.” Pakistan maintains that there are no pending charges against either entity, and has refused to enforce the U.N. and U.S.-directed sanctions. Last month, the High Court in Punjab directed the government to reply to Saeed’s appeal that the government should raise the matter with the U.S. government to have the $10 million bounty on him cancelled as well.

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