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Saeed & Co have a lot to answer: Pak daily

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Islamabad : Pakistan cannot win its fight against militancy until it adopts “zero-tolerance” against all terror groups, a leading daily commented today on the arrest of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and his associates, saying they have a lot to answer.

Saeed was arrested on Monday and put under house arrest, fuelling speculation in the country as to why did the authorities crossed the Rubicon to lay hands on the powerful jihadist leader and mastermind of Mumbai terror attacks.

Dawn newspaper in its editorial said the move to arrest Saeed and four of his colleagues and place the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FiF) on further terror watch list will be “closely watched both inside Pakistan and abroad”.

“The arrests in Punjab, the statements attributed to federal officials and the supportive comments by Director General ISPR (Inter-services Public Relation) Gen (Major General) Asif Ghafoor indicate that the actions against Saeed and the organisations he leads have been taken after inter- institutional, federal-provincial discussions — increasing the likelihood that the clampdown will be sustained and meaningful,” it opined.

It said, clearly Pakistan cannot win the fight against militancy and extremism until it adopts a zero-tolerance approach against all manifestations of the problem.

“And, just as clearly, notwithstanding the protestations of innocence by the JuD/FiF/LeT and the angry denunciations by their cadres of the government’s action, Saeed and his associates have a great deal to answer for,” it said.

The paper stressed that government should first properly launch firm legal case against Saeed and the organisations he leads, as the watch-listed JuD and FiF and the banned LeT have sophisticated legal operations that have often, and easily, been able to outmanoeuvre investigators and state prosecutors.

It said the various groups in the LeT umbrella network will likely try and hide behind ostensibly legal activities such as charitable operations and social welfare services.

“But if the strategic control of the various groups in the network and the financial linkages between them are unearthed and made public, the dismantling of the entire apparatus should become possible,” it wrote.

The paper also emphasised that the state must start to move against all militant and extremist networks in a methodical manner, doing so on a timeline that suggests an internal consensus and not external pressure.

“Already the JuD/FiF, like-minded groups and a sprawling national network of supporters have tried to cast the crackdown as an external agenda, of a government and state cravenly submitting to the diktat of outside powers, especially the US,” it said.

But, a sweeping set of actions against all groups and emphatic public ownership of those actions by the military and political leadership would send a strong signal.

“The fight against militancy is a fight for Pakistan by Pakistan for Pakistani reasons — that is the message that the state must send urgently,” it concluded.

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