With an interview with an international news agency, Reuters, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has broken the ice between United States and Pakistan, and addressed the hostility which existed since Trump’s unpleasant tweet.
In rebuttal to the US mantra of Pakistan giving hostage to terrorist outfits, Abbasi on Monday said his government will push ahead with plans to seize control of charities run by an Islamist designated a terrorist by Washington, which is Hafiz Saeed and his organization, Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and who was recently released from house arrest on the order of the Lahore High Court. Abbasi warned the US from lashing out at Pakistan, saying sanctions will make the situation worse.
If Abbasi is serious about taking action against JuD, it would be a good and much needed step, since the active presence of Hafiz Saeed was bad, not just for the international image of Pakistan, weakening our case in front of EU and UN in a potential India conflict, but it was also debilitating for our inner country affairs. We saw the negative effects of Hafiz Saeed, an internationally proclaimed terrorist, gaining spreading influence in local political campaigns, with the Milli-Muslim League in NA-120, and the growing of attitude and confidence of extremist protesters, in Faizabad and in Sialvi’s demand for Shariah. Pakistan needs to take this step for its own stability and internal progress-international credibility is a side factor.
If Abbasi really means what he said, then the interview sets a good tone- it is confident and stern enough to give the US a message that Pakistan will not get bullied and the recent aggression is uncalled. Yet his interview left good-leeway for cooperation and support, as for the first time, the Prime Minister acknowledged to take action against these extremist outfits, to clear the charge levied by the world that Pakistan only acts against extremist outfits if they attack the state, and ignores those who attack other states. His tone is that of reconciliation with the US, calling Trump ‘warm’, something that will go to the liking of the flattery-favouring president.
However, PM needs to show, both to us and to the US, on-ground implementation of this promise, which might be challenging, seeing that JUD has threatened legal action and consequences. Also, as always in the case of Hafiz Saeed, we have to watch out for government eyewash tactics and empty lip service; till we see action, all this is empty rhetoric.