By Ghalib Sultan
So the Sisyphean manhunt for the perpetrators of 9/11 continues. After a decade of blood letting the chosen white people, United States of Paranoia still needs Patsies it can announce exorbitant bounties for and in the process air out the world’s worst kept secret: even after more than a decade of fighting the wildly ‘successful’ War on Terror they still don’t know what they are doing.
Hafiz Saeed, head of right wing religious group Jamat ud Dawah whose militant faction Lashkar-e-Taiba was accused of master minding the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks in India; woke up on Tuesday to TV channels abuzz with news of how much money he is worth. Ten million dollars offered by the US to anyone who can deliver Saeed dead or alive to the US authorities. This new declaration of love for everything Pakistan was made by US Undersecretary Wendy Sherman in India on Monday as a show of righteous indignation for why Pakistani authorities have all this time failed to convict Saeed and bring him to justice.
This announcement had an effect that the most imbecile of Pakistanis could have predicted: it turned the wanted man into a media darling, sky rocketing his popularity ratings and turning him into everyone’s favorite playmate of the year. After twelve years either the US is still in denial and believes that Pakistanis will gladly rise to the occasion and call their favorite Uncle Sam to deliver the rogue miscreant to or this announcement of head-money serves a different purpose.
This new development takes place the same month Zardari is supposed to travel to India for the first time after 26/11. The timing is unlikely to be fortuitous but the message left shining on the wall reads: ‘we’re with those guys now’.
If Hafiz Saeed was the bone of contention all along, America should have learned that bounty or no bounty the best way to capture wanted men in Pakistan is via stealth operations only. A man like Hafiz Saeed whose organization is purportedly widely buttressed by the infamous ISI itself and hasn’t been convicted in any court in this country, clearly enjoys high level support. This is something Indian analysts came out to discuss as well, shaking heads over the fact that of course announcing a bounty won’t make aspiring Pakistani assassins don ninja suits to capture a man who lives in Johar Town, Lahore and is seen holding large public rallies to discuss the latest ways of dressing mutton aka India.
Saeed argued that the US hasn’t announced the bounty because six US citizens died in the Mumbai Attacks (let’s face it US soldiers who die in action don’t fetch even close to a million dollars) but because he has been holding mass rallies against reopening the NATO Supply Route. This might sound more plausible given the current ferocity with which DPC and other right wing parties have been making threats about not being afraid to ‘spill blood’ if the routes re-open. Furthermore the opposition and government have both refused to own the decision to reopen those routes ending in a stalemate.
And yet turning up its nose at Pakistan and sidling to India just when Pakistan has found a novel way to assert its national sovereignty isn’t going to help matters for the US. If announcement of bounty on a man who roams freely and is not afraid to sneer at the US and challenge it to take him to court, only foments anti US sentiment, then the US possibly cannot hope to aspire towards a future relationship with Pakistan based on ‘mutual respect and understanding’.