As per Pakistan’s official stand at various international fora, Hafiz Saeed is imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore.
Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was inside his house in Lahore when a car bomb exploded outside his house on 23 June this year, two Pakistan-based official sources having direct knowledge of the developments have confirmed to The Sunday Guardian.
This revelation assumes significance as the 71-year-old Saeed, a UN designated terrorist and the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, as per the official stand taken by Pakistan government at various international forum, is imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore, after being convicted by a special anti-terrorism court for his role in terror financing. “He was inside the house, not in prison, when the blast took place. On paper, he was inside the prison,” one official source aware of the matter told The Sunday Guardian. The same was independently confirmed by another government official.
Three persons were killed and 24 others injured when a car bomb exploded outside Saeed’s residence at the Board of Revenue (BOR) Housing Society in Johar Town in Lahore. Later, Pakistan government machinery, through its National Security Advisor, Moeed Yusuf and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, had announced that the blast outside Saeed’s residence was carried out by Indian Intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
They, however, failed to mention that Saeed was inside the house, rather than in the prison where he was officially supposed to be. The hiding of this crucial information was done, among other reasons, to ensure that Pakistan does not attract stringent sanctions from the global anti-terror body, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which could have led to it being shifted from the gray list to black in the October 2021 plenary. While it is not confirmed, it won’t come as a surprise if one of the many Pakistan-based terror groups, who had knowledge of Saeed being present in his home, carried out the car bomb attack. It is pertinent to mention that Saeed carries a reward of $US10 million on his head, which was sanctioned by the US government for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attack. Subsequent investigations had revealed that Saeed, through his various affiliates, was raising money for terror activities in other countries, too, which had led to the development of interest of other intelligence agencies and private entities to capture or eliminate Saeed.
However, Saeed has continued to flourish and has ensured that his organizations expand due to the state-sanctioned protection and patronage that is provided to him on the orders of the Generals of GHQ, Rawalpindi, as Lashkar is treated as a valuable informal ally of the Pakistan army in fulfilling its long-term military objective of “bleeding India with a thousand cuts”.