Just days after Pakistan arrested 26/11 terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, ‘#ISupportHafizSaeed’ was seen trending on Twitter in Pakistan on Friday.
The trend was supported by Pakistani citizens, amongst whom was a prominent Pakistani actor, Hamza Ali Abbasi.
A UN-proscribed terrorist, Saeed is the main accused in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which killed around 165 people, including foreign citizens. His group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, is also accused of carrying out the 2001 Indian Parliament attack.
He was sent to seven-day judicial custody on July 17 after being arrested on charges of terror financing by Pakistan.
Many are seeing Hafiz’s arrest as an attempt by Pakistan to circumvent blacklisting by the Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Pakistan has repeatedly failed to meet its commitments under the FATF action plan and is already on the body’s “grey list.”
Others have also speculated that the arrest is a bid by Pakistan to improve relations with the United States of America before Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Washington, during which he is slated to have a brief meeting with US President Donald Trump. Both India and the US have long sought for justice to be delivered to the victims of the 26/11 attacks.
Meanwhile, India has dismissed Hafiz’s arrest as mere “drama,” pointing out that it isn’t the first time the UN-proscribed terrorist has been arrested.
“This has not been the first time that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested or detained. This drama has taken place at least eight times since 2001,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
“The question is whether this time it would be more than a cosmetic exercise and whether Saeed will be tried and sentenced for his terrorist activities,” he added.
Kumar noted that Pakistan’s sincerity to take action against terrorists and terror groups would be judged on the basis of their ability to demonstrate “verifiable, credible and irreversible actions against terrorists and to disrupt and dismantle terror groups operating from their soil.”
“We hope that this time Hafiz Saeed will genuinely be brought to justice,” Kumar said.