On Friday, Hussain Nadim explained for Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel why Pakistan won’t give up Hafiz Saeed. In his piece, Mr. Nadim suggests, as many have before him, that Pakistan does not view the Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader as a direct threat but rather sees him a useful proxy in Pakistan’s ongoing struggle with India for control of Kashmir. The author then adds to this banal analysis by suggesting that Hafiz Saeed has “rebranded himself as a political and social actor renouncing violence altogether.” This is a dangerous fantasy.
Almost exactly one year ago, Hafiz Saeed addressed a rally in Lahore to raise money for jihad against the United States. And lest we be mistaken, Saeed’s idea of jihad is not one of a personal and intellectual struggle against evil – he’s talking about guns and bombs.
In a fiery Friday sermon, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”
The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security. Some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit and men asked for people exiting the mosque to give funds for jihad.
In December, Hafiz Saeed met with Kashmiri separatist leaders and assured them that “militancy in Kashmir would escalate after the US-led international troops depart from Afghanistan in 2014.”
This is the same Hafiz Saeed that Hussain Nadim claims has renounced violence.
Hussain Nadim also repeats the myth that Hafiz Saeed’s organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is a “charity organization.” But JuD is a charity organization in the mold of HAMAS and other militant organizations. Yes, they do conduct some relief work, but even that seems to be more part of a PR campaign designed to build sympathies among the people for their less charitable works. And JuD includes in its arsenal an impressive multi-national PR machine.
Tweeting last year, the “charity organization” called on God to destroy the United States.
O Allah! annihilate #US with Your authority and power, O Allah! Let all they have done be done to them. O Allah! show us their black day.
— Jamat ‘ud’ Da’wah(@JuD_Official) April 4, 2012
And in Pakistan, away from gullible Western journalists, JuD is very open about their broader mission. The following amateur video shows a JuD procession accompanied by chants of “Only one cure for America – Jihad! Jihad!”
And as for the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), which Hussain Nadim describes as “one of the movements led by Hafiz Saeed that has united and mobilized followers of different radical ideologies, which Pakistani officials hope will create a force to broker peace between the government and militants,” we’ll let Hafiz Saeed speak for himself:
“We have only one objective: to form a civilian force for the defence of Pakistan, which can work alongside Pakistan forces, because Pakistan is facing very severe threats from both sides – India is one side, America and NATO forces are on the other and the agenda of both is Pakistan.”
Pakistani police may believe, as Hussain Nadim claims, that “Saeed has been redirected and is now being used as a tool to ensure the disarmament and evolution of militant groups in Pakistan,” but there is little evidence to suggest this is the case. What is far more evident is that Hafiz Saeed is doing what he’s always done – running a sophisticated paramilitary operation under the cover of a religious charity.
Willfully ignoring reality is unlikely to magically transform Saeed from mujahideen to statesman. And, unfortuantely, whether or not “Pakistan will have to live with the burden of being blamed for supporting militants like Hafiz Saeed” is beside the point. As long as militant leaders like Hafiz Saeed are allowed to act with impunity, Pakistan will continue to suffer the carnage and internal destabilization that they sow.