Home Minister Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde posed as a tough adversary of his Pakistani counterpart Interior Minister Mr. Abdul Rehman Malik who recently visited India. Mr. Shinde rebutted Mr. Malik. He informed Lok Sabha on Monday that Pakistan had not arrested Hafiz Saeed for the 26/11 terror as Mr. Malik had claimed. Mr. Shinde told the House:
“Mr. Rehman Malik has been telling us repeatedly that he had arrested Mr. Hafiz Saeed thrice and that on each occasion, he was let off by the courts for lack of evidence…From the papers given to us, it is clear that the detention of Shri Hafiz Saeed… were for other reasons and not for his role as a conspirator in the 26/11 attack.”
Tough words to please the Indian public! But Mr. Shinde’s statement hides more than it reveals. He did not inform the House the reasons adduced from the papers procured by his ministry for which Hafiz Saeed had been arrested. Mr. Shinde had good reason to be coy about revealing this.
The Pakistan government arrested Hafiz Saeed following the UN Security Council Resolution imposing sanctions against him. The UN sanctions were covered by Security Council resolution 1267. The UN invoked Resolution 1267 against Saeed and his partners for, among other acts, the February 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express train in Panipat, India. The accomplices of Hafiz Saeed who perpetrated the Samjhauta Express bomb blast were all identified by the UN. It was under American pressure that Pakistan arrested Hafiz Saeed for his role in the Samjhauta Express terror. The court released him. Under renewed American pressure he was again arrested. The ding-dong tussle over Hafiz Saeed between Washington and Islamabad continued as the US pressured Pakistan to honour UN sanctions. In 2010 Islamabad successfully persuaded China to exercise its UN veto to prevent sanctions against Saeed. Subsequently the US Treasury Department announced its own reward for information to nail Saeed.
In the light of this background was Mr. Shinde revealing to parliament how Pakistan had not arrested Hafiz Saeed for the 26/11 attack, or was he covering up the fact that Hafiz Saeed had been arrested for the Samjhauta Express blast?
In a media interview yesterday Mr. Shinde’s colleague, Foreign Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid responding to Mr. Rehman’s recent visit said:
“So what if Samjhauta happened…what has that got to do with Mumbai?”
It is a given of course that Hindu terrorists apart from their other acts of terror also perpetrated the Samjhauta Express terror. The protests of the accused that police pressure was exerted to extract confessions on the Samjhauta case may be discounted. Let Pakistan deal with 26/11 while India deals with Samjhauta. Both nations are on the same page. That seems to be the name of the game.