Pakistan to release cleric linked to Mumbai attacks

Islamabad, Pakistan- In what would be seen as a court ruling that would surely worsen the already tense relations between India and Pakistan, a court in Lahore ordered the release of the founder of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), seen by many as the main group behind the attacks in Mumbai India in November of 2008.

 

Hafiz Saeed, the head of a charity that international organizations have said is tied to the militant group and had been under house arrest since December 11 of last year was ordered released by a panel of three judges in a Lahore court Tuesday. Lashkar-e-Taiba has been accused by Indian officials of engineering and carrying out the attacks on Mumbai that left about 170 people dead last November.

 

Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba reportedly with support from Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence to fight Indian rule in the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

 

The court ruling will likely worsen relations between Pakistan and India, both nuclear armed countries that regard each other as archenemies and have fought three wars in the last six decades. After the attacks in Mumbai, India accused Pakistan of dragging its feet in tracking down Lashkar-e-Taiba members involved in the terrorism that lasted several days in India’s commercial and financial capital of Mumbai. And only after pressure from the United States did Pakistan arrest several members of the militant group, including 2 men still held and believed to be masterminds of the attacks. Saeed was placed under house arrest and the government closed many of the relief offices, hospitals, schools and madrassahs operated by Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the relief agency associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba.

 

The ruling Tuesday renewed criticisms from India that Pakistan’s resolve to fight militant organizations was not genuine. Indian analysts say that Pakistan has a history of arresting militants only to release them once the spotlight has faded weeks or month later. They believe that the intelligence agency and the militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba have close links and that the military and the intelligence agency have used these groups in the past as proxy warriors in the decades long war with India over the dispute region of Kashmir.

 

These are valid points by Indian analysts and Pakistan must do more to disassociate itself with these militant groups. Just as Pakistan has finally gotten serious in fighting the Taliban inside its borders, it must also be consistent and forceful in tackling other militant groups within Pakistan as they threaten its security and sovereignty. Unfortunately, the Pakistani intelligence agency and some members of the military see these groups that are determined to fight India for liberation of Kashmir as allies rather than enemies.

 

One hopes that as the Obama administration starts working on a dialogue between the Arabs and the Israelis in solving the decades long Arab-Israeli conflict, it must realize that a peace between India and Pakistan is just as important for regional and global security and working towards that end will go a long way in achieving this goal.

 

Reported by Manzer Munir for www.PakistanisforPeace.com

 

 

 

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