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Rediff.com  » News » 'Hafiz Saeed's FREEDOM is an indictment of Islamabad'

'Hafiz Saeed's FREEDOM is an indictment of Islamabad'

Last updated on: April 19, 2012 13:07 IST

'Hafiz Saeed's freedom is an indictment of Islamabad'

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Congressman Ed Royce, an influential Republican lawmaker, has slammed Pakistan for not shutting down the Deobandi schools that indoctrinate and brainwash people to engage in jihad.

Royce, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, also took a swipe at the Obama administration for what he described "as ineffectual" efforts to pressure Pakistan to dismantle these terrorist training camps.

Royce, who had convened a hearing to hear from the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin, also said, "Pakistan -- specifically, its security services' backing of an array of militant groups -- is a perennial concern."

"Just the other week, the State Department announced a reward for information leading to the conviction of Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the head of the Lakshar-e-Tayiba, the group that carried out the Mumbai rampage," he noted.

Reportage: Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

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Image: Hafiz Mohammed Saeed


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'You are teaching people to commit jihad'

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Royce bemoaned the fact "that this individual continues to operate freely inside Pakistan certainly is an indictment of Islamabad as a counterterrorism partner."

The lawmaker, as he has consistently argued, said the Deobandi schools in Pakistan were responsible for "the brainwashing and indoctrination of this type of ideology so early in life, when you are teaching people to commit jihad and giving them that absolutist viewpoint without solving that problem -- without shutting that down."
 
Royce, in pillorying the administration, asserted that "our inability to get the government of Pakistan to shut down those 600 schools over the last generation is something that is beyond me."

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Image: A supporter of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa Islamic organisation beats the US flag with his shoes during an anti-American rally in Karachi
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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'This is going to be a recurring problem'

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"It is beyond me why the Pakistani government won't do it," he said, and warned that "until those schools are shut down by that government of Pakistan, this is going to be a recurring problem for Pakistanis and for the United States and certainly for our troops in Afghanistan and for the people in Mumbai."

Royce reiterated, "The problem is the brainwashing that goes on in those Deobandi schools and the ineffective effort to get the government (of Pakistan) to shut it down."

The lawmaker also ridiculed the continuing contention by the Pakistani authorities that it had no idea that Osama bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan,

He pointed out reports that three of bin Laden' wives who lived with him in Abbottabad, had given birth to his children in Pakistani hospitals.

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Image: Supporters of Al Muhammadia Students, a religious group, shout slogans while taking part in an anti-American rally in Karachi
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

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'We do not have any evidence'

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Benjamin could only weakly respond, saying, "I can only reiterate what you have heard from other officials -- we do find it remarkable, but we still to this point do not have any evidence that suggests that the Pakistani government per se had any knowledge of bin Laden's whereabouts."
 
The Obama administration's point man for counterterrorism noted, "We have certainly looked at it in many different ways and it is certainly the case that there were some people, as when (then Central Intelligence Agency) CIA Director (Leon) Panetta (now Defence Secretary) said that there were people in Pakistan who knew where bin Laden was."
 
But Benjamin continued to insist that "we have no conclusive evidence that the Pakistani government knew where he (bin Laden) was."

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Image: Supporters of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa take part in a rally
Photographs: Athar Hussain/Reuters

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