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Hafiz Saeed helps govt. de-radicalize militants: Pak official

Published: 07/04/2012 01:21:00 PM GMT
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Islamabad: Hafiz Saeed, the head of a religious group, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), is helping the government to de-radicalize the militants in Pakistan so that not only the country but its strategic ally, USA, also gets benefitted. This was revealed by a top counter-terrorism official here on Friday.

While talking to an international news agency, the official said that Saeed has appreciated the Punjab Government initiative of de-radicalization and rehabilitation program for former militants and he has assured his full cooperation in this regard.

He confirmed that the religious leader met Punjab government officials and pledged his support for the drive. He also maintained that Saeed is not being paid for his de-radicalization efforts as he has extended his help voluntarily.

The statement has surfaced at a time when the Obama-led US Government has just placed $10 million bounty on the head of JuD Chief. He is alleged to have been the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks in 2008 leaving 166 people dead including 6 Americans.

The high interest of the USA in Hafiz Saeed is apparent after placing such a high bounty on his head that has brought him next to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar who has same amount of bounty on his head too. The highest bounty by the USA has been placed on the head of Al-Qaeda leader, Aiman Al-Zawahiri i.e. $25 million.

According to the analysts, the USA has announced bounty on Hafiz Saeed to exert pressure on the Pakistani government to take actions against the alleged mastermind of terrorism. It should be remembered that ties between the allies of war against terrorism are already strained. 

The senior counter-terrorism official observed that Hafiz Saeed and his supporters are helping government efforts to transform militants into a common citizen who follow laws of the country.

He said, “JuD was consulted and they approved the de-radicalization plan. They assured us of their intellectual input and resource materials. They also offered teachers.”

He explained the rehabilitation program that technical skills are being developed in former militants so that they can earn bread and butter for themselves in lawful manner and never return to the life of militancy. 

Hafiz Saeed persuades former jobless and idle militants to join the de-radicalization and rehabilitation program, he added.

The counter-terrorism official disclosed that 200 former militants have participated in the program this year in Punjab including some from Saeed’s group. 100 more former militants will be completing the program by June, he added.

While answering the question if the bounty would hurdle de-radicalization efforts, he said that there was resentment but he hoped the program would not be affected.

When contacted, the JuD spokesman, Yahya Mujahid, did not admit that the group has participated in the de-radicalization program. Another senior group member, Hafiz Khalid Waleed, declined to comment on whether his leader is directly assisting the government in de-radicalization but he asserted that JuD promotes non-violence.

Pakistani officials had already said that Pakistani courts have cleared Hafiz Saeed from terrorism charges and he has the right to move freely.

Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, said JuD Chief would not be arrested as there are no concrete evidences against him. He also termed the decision of US State Department to offer bounty on Hafiz Saeed strange in the absence of solid evidences.

Hafiz Saeed, the head of a religious group, Jamaatud Dawa