‘US bounty on Saeed has boosted his image’

Last Updated: Friday, April 6, 2012 - 16:26

Islamabad: The USD 10 million bounty announced
by the US for LeT founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed is a "blatant
pressure tactic" and has boosted his image as the leader of
resistance against the Americans, the Pakistani media said
on Friday.

Describing the bounty that has made Saeed one of the
world`s most wanted men as "peculiar", the influential Dawn
newspaper said in its editorial that the measure could be
taken advantage of by those who are opposed to the
normalisation of Pakistan-US relations.

"A rather blatant pressure tactic, the American move also
has the potential to backfire: the forces holding up the
normalisation of ties with the US now have yet more ammunition
to argue that the US is no friend of Pakistan and what it
really seeks is an alliance with India to try and squeeze
Pakistan," said the editorial.

The Express Tribune, in its editorial, "The curious case
of Hafiz Saeed", warned that the US move could help boost his
image among his followers.

"Already seen by many people as a symbol of defiance
against India and the West, the bounty comes as a boon for his
image of a leader of the resistance against the Americans," it
said.

"The irony is that in announcing the bounty on Hafiz
Saeed, the US has ended up adding to his fame, especially
among his loyal constituency," it said.

Responding to the bounty offered under the Rewards for
Justice programme, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday
said the case of Saeed is an "internal issue".

He said the US should provide any evidence it has against
Saeed so that it could be examined by Pakistani courts.

However, The Express Tribune noted that the US "mishandled
the situation" because it had to clarify that the bounty was
not for Saeed`s "whereabouts but for information that would
lead to his conviction".

The daily further noted that Saeed had "done anything but"
hunker down and stay quiet since the reward was announced.

Over the past few days, Saeed has repeatedly spoken to the
media and appeared on TV news channels, mocking the bounty and
goading the US to act against him.

The media noted that Saeed had been placed under house
arrest several times in the past, including after the 2008
Mumbai attacks that were blamed on the LeT.

However, he was freed on every occasion due to lack of
evidence, the media pointed out.

"The fact is that the Pakistan government, and the
international community as a whole, has been trying to nab the
JuD chief for some time, but without getting any of the
charges against him to stick," The Express Tribune said.

Declaring the LeT a terrorist group has had little effect
in Pakistan, "where the group has been able to maintain
plausible deniability simply by changing its name", it noted.
However, the bounty does increase pressure on Pakistan to
deal with Saeed and "the only way forward would be for the
government to make a case against Mr Saeed that holds up to
judicial scrutiny", the Tribune said.

"After all, when the JuD chief taunts the US government to
contact him in Lahore since he is a free man in Pakistan
he is also thumbing his nose at the country`s civilian
government which has tried and failed in arresting him for
alleged involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks," the Tribune
said.

The Dawn cautioned that the temptation on the Pakistani
side to play to the galleries and "rant about defiance of the
US will still be strong" but that would "always remain a bad
idea".

It added: "Pakistan really cannot afford to be on the
wrong side of that equation."

The Daily Times, in its editorial, warned that the bounty
for Saeed had "injected a new destabilising element in the
tense Pakistan-US ties".

It warned that it may be difficult to gather credible
evidence or witnesses against Saeed because people like him
"have powerful protectors and friends in the intelligence
community, which sees them as `strategic assets`."

PTI



First Published: Friday, April 6, 2012 - 16:26

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