Arrest of Hafiz Saeed will help ease India - Pakistan tensions: Reuters
LAHORE / KARACHI: Police kept the accused architect of the 2008 Mumbai attacks under house arrest in Lahore on Tuesday, manning barricades outside his home as supporters vowed protests.
The detention of Hafiz Saeed could help ease tensions between nuclear-armed foes Pakistan and India, although New Delhi has not yet responded.
The Mumbai attacks brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war after 10 gunmen killed 166 people, including commuters, foreigners and some of India’s wealthy elite, in a rampage that included attacks on two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a train station.
Police detained Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group that India blames for the bloodshed, at the Lahore headquarters of his charity on Monday night. Shortly before dawn on Tuesday, he was taken by police to his house, where a Reuters cameraman saw police setting up a perimeter. They later banned media from the scene as about 100 Saeed supporters chanted slogans.
Saeed has denied ordering the Mumbai attacks and has distanced himself from LeT, while leading his charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
Supporters accused Islamabad of acquiescing to the wishes of the United States, which has a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed’s arrest, and India.
“This government has buckled under the pressure,” JuD spokesperson Nadeem Awan said.
Another spokesperson, Farooq Azam, announced protests in Karachi by “different religious and Kashmir leaders”.
In recent months, Saeed has been holding regular press conferences about the security crackdown in Indian-controlled Kashmir, castigating a crackdown against the mainly Muslim population there.
It was unclear why Pakistan decided to act now. A senior Pakistani defense ministry official said Islamabad had not been contacted by the new administration of US President Donald Trump but had been feeling US pressure on the issue.
“Trump is taking hard decisions against Muslim countries, there is open talk of actions against Pakistan also. So yes, this was a consideration,” said the official.
Other government officials have said recently that a broader diplomatic campaign – pushed by India – to isolate Pakistan has taken a toll, even involving pressure from longtime ally China.
India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Saeed was put under house arrest after the Mumbai attack, but was released about six months later in June 2009 - Reuters