The government’s strong crackdown against the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its sister organisation the Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) was surprising as it is, but the military’s explicit comments in support of this action are more surprising still. Military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said that the crackdown “was a policy decision taken by state institutions keeping in view the national interest,” at his first press conference, while answering a question about detention of Hafiz Saeed and four others a day earlier.

In a rare mention of the JuD and in no uncertain terms, the military has thrown its weight behind the move and shown that it and the civilian government are on the same page – this was a combined decision, taken for national interest. Considering that the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had already announced the move to the general public and that the civilian law enforcement agencies had carried out the arrests, it would have been very easy for the military to do nothing and let the government shoulder the responsibility. However, they have acted swiftly to shore up the government and furthermore, the words they have used are strong ones. This raises hope that the action is a concrete one that will be followed through.

We must remember that Hafiz Saeed has been put under house arrest before – in 2008 following the Mumbai attacks, and in 2009 again. Both times, he was released relatively soon afterwards as the government failed to establish a compelling case for his continued detention. This time as well, he has been detained under Section 11-E of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 that allows the government to keep terrorism suspects in custody for 90 days. This means that if the government fails to seriously build a case against him, Hafiz Saeed would be back on the streets in 3 months. With the government and military on the same page, this now seems like an unlikely scenario.

The seeming dispelling of the perception that JuD and FIF are tolerated by the establishment because of their stance on Kashmir and India will also go a long way. Not only will it help ensure the detention of Hafiz Saeed but also allow the government to deal with the threatened marches by religious parties with full force and authority.

These are certainly different means with which JuD is being treated, it is hoped that the end result will be different too.