The long saga of Pakistan’s indecisiveness of Hafiz Saeed continues, this time, with a move against his favour. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has initiated a crackdown against Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its humanitarian wing, Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF), by seizing the organisations’ offices and taking over the latter’s operational matters. The move came after the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) issued a notification asking citizens to not donate to organisations listed on a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) list of proscribed organisations.

Any political analyst would stress the importance of curtailing Hafiz Saeed’s unchecked power and influence. This was a necessary move not only after the FATF review, which has given Pakistan a three month trial period to formulate policies to rid itself of terrorism financing, but is also necessary for national security. Day by day, we have seen a growing resurfacing of intolerance, with Saeed’s popularity and political influence being a factor in aiding the wave.

Thus, though this action is appreciated, these last-minute moves lack of sincerity on part of the government, as even after sanctions against Saeed, Pakistan’s official stance remains muddled. The actions against Saeed hint of more lip-service, rather than actual attempt to hold him accountable. . His organisations are intermittently targeted, he is placed on for-show house arrests and his bank accounts frozen from time to time but he is still allowed to veritably contest elections or lend his support to other political parties. Turning a blind eye to Saeed’s influence in elections can serve to be the most fatal consequence of all, as Pakistan slowly sees intolerance and extremism being a part of the normal in politics.

More crucially, the military still expounds the policy of “mainstreaming” hard-core groups - whereby previous militant leaders will be made part of the democratic process and thus given legitimacy. The established has explicitly named Hafiz Saeed and says that it plans to continue down the policy of mainstreaming him. This contradiction - between international statements and local statements made to the media, and between action by local governments and inaction of establishment - needs to be resolved right away.

After years of contradicting stances on Hafiz Saeed, and the resulting international condemnation because of it, it is time for Pakistan to finally make up its mind on the JuD leader. Especially in the face of our worsening relation with India, and the upcoming FATF review, this issue needs to be decided and committed to.