Lahore: Pakistan’s patronage to Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attack, has just been made official. The Pakistan government will run two special trains to transport people to Lahore for the two-day congregation of his banned terror organization Jamaat-ud-Dawah, or JuD.
The congregation begins on December 4 at Lahore’s Minar-i-Pakistan monument grounds.
Saeed is the alleged mastermind behind series of attacks in India, including the one in Mumbai, which claimed 166 lives. It was planned in Pakistan and executed by Pakistani terrorists including Ajmal Kasab, who was later hanged.
In June, the United States, which had been leaning heavily on Pakistan to crack the Islamic terror network, added Lashkar-e-Taiba and its affiliates – including JuD – to its list of designated terror organisations. He already carries a bounty of $10 million. (Read: JuD denies charge)
Pakistan claims it is the government’s policy to rent out trains to political and religious organisations. Railways spokesman Rauf Tahir said, “Two special trains will be run for JuD congregation but not free of cost”.
Official sources said the JuD leadership had spoken to Railways Minister Saad Rafique for his permission to run special trains.
The first train will start from today from Hyderabad, Sindh province, and reach Lahore tomorrow night. Another train will leave from Karachi and reach Lahore on December 4. At the end of the meet, the trains will transport the passengers back as well.
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf has already postponed its call to block Lahore on December 4 at the “request” of the JuD leadership. “Yes we have changed Lahore’s plan on the request of JuD. The JuD told us that thousands of people are coming to Lahore on December 4 and it cannot afford any hurdle in it,” a senior leader of the party said.
Regarding the terror charges, Pakistan has said it needs “hard evidence” to put Saeed in jail. “We can’t put him in jail just to please everyone,” Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit had said in July.