Don’t take the charade too seriously
Now unless you think that dossiers-and-lawsuits is somehow an effective way for India to secure itself against attacks by Pakistan’s military-jihadi complex, you should neither be surprised nor overly concerned over the Lahore High Court’s decision to release the Lashkar-e-Taiba chief from house arrest. Of course his release reveals Pakistan’s lack of seriousness in acting against the jihadi groups. As does the fact that there were no charges pressed against him—he was only under ‘preventive custody’. This going in and out of the purdah—to use Sumit Ganguly’s term—is an old routine. In fact, it shows a lack of seriousness on India’s part to expect the Pakistani legal system to somehow solve the problem pf cross-border terrorism. Dossiers-and-lawsuits simply cannot be the centre-piece of India’s strategic response. [See: Beyond the cosmetic crackdown and after the mea culpa]
Coming to Mr Saeed’s release, what might have been the motivations and the terms of the deal? The Pakistani army is engaged in a battle against the ‘Taliban’ in Malakand and Waziristan, it is likely to want to placate the jihadis in its heartland. Also, Mr Saeed’s case fits a pattern of judgements coming from the ‘restored’ judiciary which also freed A Q Khan and Maulana Abdul Aziz of the Red Mosque in recent months. Like the others, Mr Saeed’s freedom is likely to have come under the understanding that for the time being, he is permitted to indulge in rhetoric, but not the kind of mischief that would get the Pakistani government in more trouble. That’s not bad news.
There is a chance that Mr Saeed’s release is linked to the onset of the summer infiltration season in Jammu & Kashmir. But surely, the resourceful LeT chief is unlikely to have serious impediments in directing the operations while being under house arrest. That would even provide alibis, fig leafs and mitigation pleas to all those who might need them.