The United States has offered a bounty of $10 million on the head of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) and the so-called charity organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The LeT is responsible for various acts of terror in India, including the 10-man attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008 that killed more than 170 people of various nationalities.
There could various reasons for this bounty — the US might want to prevent Saeed, who is gradually getting into Pakistan’s political mainstream and regularly holding political rallies, from being influential in the formation of the next government. It could also be that Washington has lost all confidence in Islamabad’s ability to dismantle the military-jihadi complex.
For India, though, Saeed should never have been a target for the US. For more than three years since the 26/11 attacks, India has done nothing to target Hafiz Saeed, except send dossiers to the Pakistan government, knowing full well that neither President Asif Zardari nor Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani would be able to make any kind of progress on his arrest given the protection the terrorist ring-leader has from the military.
In fact, Saeed has been thumbing his nose to India by holding several political rallies in full public view across Pakistan, and has already garnered enough support from radicalized Pakistanis to allow him to become a potent force in the next general elections. He has also, on each of these occasions, called for the destruction of India.
Yet, while all of this happened, India did not attempt to do anything bilaterally with Pakistan, nor did it put any kind of pressure on Islamabad on any global forum of any consequence.
This is not only demeaning to the scores of people killed on 26/11, but it also puts a question mark on India’s ability to deliver justice to its own people in the case of an attack by a foreign terror outfit. Whether the US gets Saeed or not is a matter of speculation; what has emerged so far is that India does not seem to have the gumption to take on its own enemies.
To be sure, this gives the government of India another opportunity to redeem itself and use the renewed international attention on Saeed to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 to justice. It’s almost a now-or-never opportunity for New Delhi.