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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Perfidious Musharraf and his Recent TV Interview - Part IV

Gen. (r) Musharraf referred to other things as well, for example, on actions taken against Prof. Hafeez Saeed saheb and Maulana Masood Azhar saheb. The interviewer referred to the 'arrest' of the learned Maulana, only to be 'corrected' by the General(r) that "no, he was never arrested because we could not arrest him". Again, the answer was a double entendre as has been the various utterances of Pakistani leaders. We will come to the Maulana episode a little later.

We need to understand a little bit about these two great jihadi leaders, Prof. Hafeez Saeed saheb and Maulana Masood Azhar saheb before we proceed with the General's usual perfidy.

Lashkar-e-Tayba(LeT, Army of the Pure) is a Sunni Ahl-e-Hadith terrorist organization that was started in the Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan. Prof. Hafeez Saeed (who taught Islam at the University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore and hence the oxymoronic Professor tag) was the co-founder, along with Abdullah Azzam, of Maktab-al-Khidmat (Office of Service) in Peshawar in circa 1979 to help the Arab jihadis. Abdullah Azzam was the mentor of Osama bin Laden, both at the King Abdul Aziz University (KAAU) in Jeddah and later in the Afghan jihad. After Azzam's assassination on Nov. 24, 1989, variously attributed to Israeli Mossad or even the mujahideen faction, the Maktab became Jama'at-ud-Dawah W'al Irshad and LeT was founded soon thereafter as its military wing.

Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM, Army of Muhammad, PBUH), a Sunni Hanafi Deobandi terrorist organization, was created by the ISI on 31 January 2000, exactly one month after Maulana Masood Azhar was released from the Indian prison in exchange for release of passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814. The creation of JeM is attributed to Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed, who was the chief of ISI (between circa 1999 – 2001). Maulana Masood Azhar is a close friend of Osama bin Laden from the days of his exile in Sudan after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expelled him for anti-State (anti-monarchy, in fact) activities. Predictably, his organization is a member of IIF (Islamic International Front for Jihad against the Crusaders and the Jewish people). Apart from various terrorist attacks in India, especially J&K, JeM has also been involved in terrorist attacks within Pakistan. Some important attacks were the assassination attempts on Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 2003; US Consulate attack in Karachi on May 26, 2004; attack on Karachi Corps Commander on June 9, 2004 etc. Earlier, when Pakistan deployed its troops in Somalia under UN supervision, an enraged Masood Azhar carried out operations that killed 24 Pakistani Army soldiers there. He also wrote a booklet against Pakistani troops in Somalia and even distributed that in Pakistan. His jihadi commitment to the ideological frontiers of Islam thus truly transcends mere geographical boundaries of a nation, well in line with the 'Jihad fi Sabilillah' (Jihad in the way of Allah) motto of the regular Pakistani Army itself.

Now, let us come to the various ways by which the Islamic republic of Pakistan has handled these two great warriors. See my earlier blog, "Prof. Hafeez Saeed, LeT, and the Support from the State of Pakistan" on how the 'Deep State' benevolently handled this 'non-state actor' after 9/11. Let us therefore limit ourselves to a discussion on Maulana saheb alone here.

After his release at Kandahar into ISI hands, a fact accepted by the then Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Mutawakil and confirmed by Indian signal intercepts[2], Maulana Masood Azhar was driven to Pakistan in vehicles provided by the Taliban and was received with great joy and pride all over the country. His first stop was the Binori mosque at Karachi (Jamia Darul Uloom Islamia Allama Binori) and it was not surprising because that was his alma mater (where Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden and HuJI chief Qari Saifullah Akhtar also studied at one time or another), having passed with distinction from there. Its Chief Nazeemuddin Shamzai (since assassinated) was the patron saint of JeM. He was constantly surrounded by dozens of heavily armed militia even as there was a ban on display of arms by any person or group in Karachi because of the security situation there. Just nobody dared to challenge Azhar saheb and his heavily armed guards could be seen in vehicles and open meetings, the first of which he addressed at Al-Rasheediya mosque in central Karachi within a week, proclaiming his resolve to defeat India and calling for funds and volunteers. Now, did Gen. (r) Musharraf say that Pakistan could never arrest Masood Azhar ? He was indeed arrested in December, 2001 after the attack on the Indian Parliament but was ordered released by a review board of the Lahore High Court on Dec. 14, 2002. His arrest was confirmed by none other than the Spokesperson of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Rashid Qureshi, that Master Spinner. The usual ploy, as we found later in the case of Prof. Hafeez Saeed saheb, of arresting under 'Maintenance of Public Order' was employed in Azhar's case too. We know how Islamist the Lahore High Court has been, from the way it has released scores of hardcore jihadi terrorists over the years and so his subsequent release is not surprising.

In c. 2003, Gen. Musharraf met all top jihadi leaders[1], including Maulana Masood Azhar, to re-assure them of the continued support of his government for their jihadi activities in spite of US pressure to do otherwise. This was the 'running with the hares and hunting with the hounds' policy of Musharraf, as accepted now by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani. The Deep State therefore encouraged LeT to organize a large gathering at Muridke in c. 2003 which was addressed, among others, by Masood Azhar as well. Azhar saheb was again placed under house arrest after the twin suicide attacks on Gen. Musharraf in 2003. He conveniently disappeared from house arrest in Bahawalpur sometime later. However, there have been many authentic reports of his frequent visits since then to his house in Bahawalpur where heavy security support is provided by the Deep State. He also held an open function to launch his new book Fatah-ul-Jawad: Quranic Verses on Jihad, on April 28, 2008, in Bahawalpur when Gen. (r) Musharraf was still very much in power. In the meanwhile, his Balakot terror training facility has been running without let or hindrance. In December, 2008, Pakistan claimed that it had placed Azhar under house arrest in Bahawalpur (confirmed by defense minister Chaudhary Ahmad Mukhtar in a TV interview where he also said that Azhar would not be handed over to India however). The DAWN News Channel also confirmed this quoting interior ministry sources. However, it was denied within a few days by the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi claiming that his whereabouts were unknown though they were certain that he was not in Pakistan. Does it not sound all too familiar considering that a similar response comes from Pakistan whenever Dawood Ibrahim's name is mentioned when the whole world knows where he lives in Pakistan, except of course the Government of Pakistan ? So much for the Deep State's inability to arrest or prosecute the Maulana saheb.

(To be continued. . . )

[1] "Pakistan, India: Same Game, New Rules", Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times,Nov. 27, 2003
[2] "The Kandahar Plot", Praveen Swami, Frontline,Vol 20-Issue 24, Nov. 22 - Dec. 05, 2003

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