A media discussion on Voice of America (Urdu Service) program Jehan Rang, hosted by Behjat Gilani on January 31, 2017. The discussion examined the circumstances surrounding Pakistan’s decision to put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest. Hafiz Saeed is the alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. He is also the cofounder of banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and amir of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
Some analysts have interpreted the decision was taken under pressure from the incoming Trump administration, fearing imposition of sanctions. Others have cited Chinese involvement, which has been more involved in these matters at the United Nations Security Council – and previously blocked efforts to declare the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) Masood Azhar a terrorist. China is preparing and positioning itself to deal with the dramatic change in the American political landscape. This step also addresses Indian demands to remove hurdles in the path of stalled Pakistan-India dialogue.
However the following angles are equally critical:
The arrest of Hafiz Saeed symbolizes continuity in Pakistan’s policy towards non-state actors, including those that are focused towards Kashmir and India. Pakistani officials have repeatedly conveyed to the US that it cannot target all the non-state actors at the same time, and its strategy is premised on sequencing. And this has been a consistent topic under the security and counter-terrorism strategic dialogue between the two nations.
The growing threat of IS/Deash in Afghanistan is raising concerns for China, Russia, Pakistan and increasingly Iran. Because of its involvement in Syria and Yemen, Iran is worried that IS/Daesh may attempt to open another front against it in Afghanistan.
This, in turn, accompanied by the uncertain US policy and growing Russian influence, is also pressuring the Afghan government and Afghan Taliban to reach some kind of agreement. After all, the continuing war there impacts the Afghans more than anyone else.
To reap the maximum benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), it’s imperative that Pakistan establishes some level of normalized ties with India, and progress is made towards Afghan reconciliation.
The discussion panel included:
Dr. Yasmin Aftab Ali – Professor of Law
Arif Ansar – Chief Analyst, PoliTact
Mir Wais Afghan – Afghan Analyst