Washington: Hafiz Saeed`s vision is
"destruction" of India, says US counter-terrorism expert Bruce
Riedel, maintaining that the Pakistan-based LeT founder is an
al Qaeda ally who was in close touch with Osama bin Laden
until his death in May last year.
"Saeed, a very public figure in Pakistan and admired by
its military, advocates a truly extreme vision: the
restoration of the Mughal empire and the destruction of
India," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and now a senior
fellow in the Seban Center at Brookings Institute, said.
America`s decision to announce a bounty of USD 10 million
on Saeed would further deteriorate its relationship with
Pakistan, he wrote in `The Daily Beast`.
Saeed, he said, stayed in close contact with bin Laden
until his death in May last year in a covert US raid,
according to the material found in the al Qaeda leader`s
hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
"Saeed openly mourned bin Laden in a bitter eulogy the
Friday after the SEALs delivered justice to bin Laden," wrote
Riedel, who was among the three members appointed by US
President Barack Obama to review and formulate a new Af-Pak
policy for the administration.
Riedel said Saeed`s ambitions are not limited to Kashmir
alone. "It is destruction of India."
"LeT`s ideology as laid out by Saeed goes far beyond
recovering the Muslim parts of Kashmir for Pakistan. He seeks
the creation of a Muslim caliphate over the entire
subcontinent. The LeT`s role model is the old Mughal empire of
the 17th and 18th centuries that dominated most of the
subcontinent with a Muslim minority ruling the Hindu
majority," he wrote.
"The vision of Saeed and his fellow leaders of LeT
requires the literal destruction of India as a state. Saeed
announced this goal in a speech in 1999 after the short Kargil
war with India, saying, `today I announce the break-up of
India, Inshallah (God willing). We will not rest until the
whole of India is dissolved into Pakistan`," Riedel wrote.
"One LeT newspaper captured the spirit of its ideology
with this passage, `Kashmir can be liberated in six months.
Within a couple of years, the rest of the territories of India
could be conquered as well, and we can regain our lost glory.
We can bring back the era of Mughal rule. We can once again
subjugate the Hindus like our forefathers`."
"As the US and India grow closer, the LeT increasingly
sees America as its enemy," Riedel wrote.
Riedel said Saeed and the LeT have also benefited for
years from the patronage of the Pakistani army and ISI.
"He is a frequent guest at army functions and his
headquarters near Lahore is guarded by nearby ISI offices.
Saeed`s current campaign to stop the drones, to keep NATO
supply lines to Afghanistan via Karachi closed and to sever US
-Pakistan relations would not be possible without the support
of the ISI," he said.
"By putting a bounty on his head now, the Obama
administration has not only raised the ante with LeT, it has
considerably raised the ante with its patrons and protectors
in the Pakistani army," Riedel said.
Separately, an investigative US media website said that
the announcement of USD 10 million bounty on Saeed`s head
shows the Obama administration has decided to take a hardline
The ProPublica, which has done a series of investigative
stories on the Mumbai terror attacks and David Coleman
Headley, said that Saeed has a close relationship with ISI.
"As we reported, Headley revealed that Saeed helped plan
the Mumbai attacks. He credited Saeed for inspiring him to
`jihad` and, after his arrest, told interrogators about
Saeed`s ties to Pakistani intelligence. `He is very close to
ISI,` Headley said of Saeed. `He is well protected`," it said
in its latest article following the announcement made by the
It said the announcements show how much US-Pakistani
relations have deteriorated as the Obama administration has
taken a harder line with Islamabad.
Although US prosecutors have not indicted Saeed, the
offer of the reward is clearly intended to increase pressure
on Lashkar, the ISI and the Pakistani government, it said.
"Saeed is a powerful public figure in Pakistan and has
held mass rallies in recent months in which he denounced
the West and India," it said.
"Pakistani authorities have also refused to arrest Mir,
Major Iqbal and other suspects despite abundant evidence
against them. Their whereabouts, like Saeed`s, are
well-known," the article said.