Opinion: Kill, capture or ignore? The strange case of Hafiz Saeed and the US

The Trump administration must devise a consistent strategy on Hafiz Saeed to either kill or capture him. Photograph:( Others )

New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 17, 2018, 10.00 AM (IST) Rustam Roy

Remember 2nd May, 2011? It was the day the elite US navy seal team finally killed the world's most dangerous terrorist Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad in Pakistan.

The US has led the war on terror on several fronts through diplomacy and dialogue sometimes, but mostly as a "last resort"  to obliterate terrorists across the world whether in Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia or Pakistan.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an NGO which tracks US air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the US military conducted five drone strikes in Pakistan last year, killing at least 22 people. In contrast, the US drone strikes in Afghanistan was in the region of 2,607 to 2,609 in which at least 1,445 people were killed.

The US Air Force conducted 1,104 sorties in Afghanistan last year, the report said. 

Despite its display of military might in the war on terror, the US has strangely kept mum on Hafiz Saeed although he is on their designated list of "global terrorists".

In 2012, the Obama administration had announced a bounty of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. India accuses the Jamaat leader of masterminding the 26/11 attacks but neither Obama nor Trump ever took serious steps either to kill or capture Saeed.

The term "global terrorist" is nothing more than a rubber stamp in the larger scheme of things as it no way means the US places the killing or capture of a terrorist as "high priority".

The US mainly blocks the assets of the individual in its soil and bars its citizens from carrying out financial transactions with the person - in both these cases Hafiz Saeed is clear as he does not need a US bank account nor does he need any American or related group to enter into deals with him.

The fact is, it would need only a single drone strike for the US to take down Saeed but the Jamaat chief moves around freely in Pakistan, holding rallies filled with anti-American remarks. He is also reportedly keen to float a political party but under sustained US pressure on the Pak government, he hasn't been successful so far. 

The US must move away from its "good terrorist" and "bad terrorist" mindset. There was a time in the 80s when the US government considered Osama bin Laden as a "Gucci terrorist" till he became a "global threat" in the aftermath of the 2001 trade tower attack in New York.

The Trump administration must devise a consistent strategy on Hafiz Saeed to either kill or capture him, inability or complacency might come back to haunt them one day, just like Osama.

 

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)

Rustam Roy

Rustam Roy is digital news journalist at WION. He follows election trends worldwide, football and changes sweeping the Middle Kingdom(not necessarily in that order).