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'LeT has never had to deal with loss of leadership'

Last updated on: April 5, 2012 13:21 IST

'LeT has never had to deal with loss of leadership'

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Vicky Nanjappa

Does a $10 million bounty on 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Lashkar-e-Tayiba chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed do India any good?

Though New Delhi has hailed America authorities for acting against Saeed, intelligence agencies are sceptical; they believe that elements in Pakistan would go to any extent to protect the Lashkar chief. 
 
Stephen Tankel, author of the book Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba, says that the bounty announcement validates India's repeated assertions that the LeT is a dangerous group and that Saeed plays a strategic role in guiding it.

Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa had a brief interaction with Tankel
 
Has the bounty announcement come late?

Saeed is not difficult to locate. The decision to announce a bounty on Saeed has been in the works for a number of months. As to whether the decision to offer a reward should have been made sooner, I think one needs to examine what the US hopes to accomplish."

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Photographs: Reuters

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'LeT has never had to deal with loss of leadership'

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One possible objective was signalling the seriousness of US concerns to Pakistan and pressuring it to rein in Saeed (and through him the LeT). This decision also might have been taken in an attempt to put pressure on the group directly."

It is hardly clear at this stage whether offering the reward will help accomplish these objectives and there are some potentially steep costs involved. So my sense is we will have to wait and see to determine whether the announcement should have been made and, if so, whether it should have been made sooner.

Will Hafiz Saeed's death or capture weaken the Lashkar-e-Tayiba? 

The truth is we just do not know. Saeed has led the organisation since it was founded as Markaz-al-Dawa-wal-Irshad in 1986. He has been surrounded by the same leadership team, more or less, since then.

So LeT has never had to deal with a major loss at the leadership level and therefore we really don't have a sense of its resiliency.

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Image: Hafiz Saeed addressing a rally
Photographs: Reuters

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'LeT has never had to deal with loss of leadership'

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It is tough to find anyone else with the same stature. So removing Saeed could weaken the group and possibly even fragment it.

What LeT looks like without Saeed is one of the more difficult scenarios to play out, but one which I would expect that officials in Pakistan, India, US and the LeT devote some time to thinking about.

Should Zaki-ur-Rehman-Lakhvi (another prominent LeT leader) have been included?

As you know, Lakhvi is already in jail. So it would be difficult to imagine offering a reward for his capture.

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Photographs: Reuters
Tags: Saeed , Lakhvi , India , US

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'LeT has never had to deal with loss of leadership'

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How does India gain from the bounty announcement? 

Certainly this validates India's repeated assertions that LeT is a dangerous group and that Saeed plays a strategic role in guiding it.

Whether this will lead to any beneficial action at the operational level or to closer counterterrorism cooperation between India and Pakistan remains to be seen.

Again, though, it is no surprise that India welcomed this statement given the violence LeT has perpetrated against it or the energy New Delhi has put into making the case against both the group and Saeed. 

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Photographs: Getty Images

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