New Delhi, Dec 1: In what can be described as a New Year promise by Pakistan, the country's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar today assured to prosecute Jamaat-ud-Dawah head Hafiz Saeed if India proves that he masterminded the 26/11 terror attacks.
Delhi has been pressing for stringent action against Saeed ever since ten Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists held Mumbai to ransom for nearly three days in Nov 2008.
Despite Indian investigators building a strong case against Saeed on the basis of confessions by both Ajmal Kasab who was hanged in a Pune jail recently and key 26/11 handler Abu Jundal, Pakistan avers that the proof against the LeT founder is not compelling enough to warrant his detention or trial.
Referring to the six-month period when Islamabad put Saeed under house arrest after the United Nations Security Council declared the Jamaat-ud-Dawa as an front for the LeT, Khar pointed out that "Hafiz Saeed was in custody and the evidence against him could not hold in a court of law. We have said even now that we will be happy to look at any evidence against him that holds in a court of law."
To a news channel's specific query whether Islamabad will arrange Saeed's trial if Delhi provides clinching evidence of his involvement in 26/11, she said: "Yes, there will definitely (be action). He was already in custody. The evidence against him was not enough and he was released from custody for this reason."
Islamabad has in the past too expressed its willingness to act against Saeed. However, each time the burden of proof was placed on Delhi. The problem is that Pakistan uses a proviso and simultaneously turns a dead ear to Saeed's frequent fulminations.
He mainly targets the United States and India while addressing his supporters. In Apr 2012, the US announced a bounty of 10 million dollars on Saeed but Islamabad has allowed him to roam free. Due to this, India is not labouring under any illusions that Pakistan will take action against the Jamaat-ud-Dawah head.
Though diplomats often make the right noises, rarely do they walk the talk. In case Pakistan ever accepts the evidence proferred by India, it will be interesting to see Khar keep her promise.