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`Dawood Ibrahim in Jeddah, will return to Pakistan soon`

The statement of Shahryar Khan that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim is not in Pakistan is only partially true.

Mumbai: The statement of Shahryar Khan that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim is not in Pakistan is only partially true. The fact is that the most-wanted terrorist is out of Pakistan, but only temporarily.

He has not been chased out, as made out by Khan, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s special envoy for improving relations with India.

The don has only gone to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah and he was spotted by intelligence sleuths in Jeddah on Thursday. Dawood celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr in Jeddah on Friday and is expected to return to Pakistan early next week.
PTI had earlier quoted Khan as saying “Dawood was in Pakistan but I believe he was chased out of Pakistan. If he is in Pakistan, he should be hounded and arrested. We cannot allow such gangsters to operate from the country.”

Meanwhile, Dawood’s trusted aide, Chhota Shakeel, texted Eid Mubarak greetings to several people in Mumbai, including this correspondent, from the comfort of Dawood’s home in Karachi on Friday. Shakeel’s associate Nasser too called up several people in the city from the home of gangster Fahim Mach Mach in the Golimar area of Karachi.

The fact is that Dawood is too important an “asset” to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to be “chased out”. When former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf came to Agra for the summit, the ISI relocated Dawood to a safe house in Singapore which made it possible for the then Pakistani leader to claim that the don is not on Pakistani soil.
Within 24 hours of Gen Musharraf returning to Islamabad, Dawood was flown in to Karachi in a special jet by the ISI. Dawood regularly keeps in touch with his sister Haseena Aapa, who lives in Nagpada, and the calls have been traced by intelligence agencies to Pakistan.

But what is significant about Khan’s statement is that it is for the first time Pakistan has admitted that Dawood was indeed in the country. Incidentally, Dawood had financed several candidates during the recent parliamentary elections in that country, specially in the Pakhtunwa region, which is a major conduit for his narcotics smuggling activities.

Khan’s statement came while he was speaking to reporters at a pre-launch event organised by the Indian Journalists’ Association for his latest book ‘Cricket Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport in Pakistan’.

“I think he is in the UAE. The Sharif government is very much in favour of taking action against criminals who not only affect Pakistan but other countries. We cannot allow criminals to flourish in the country. If they come to us, we will take action. That is why I think he (Dawood) has left Pakistan,” Khan added.

S Balakrishnan/DNA