By Junaid Ahmed Khan
There seems to be lack of understanding in media in relation to using the word “BOUNTY” and there is a general view that media personnel are creating this confusion on purpose, and particularly in the case of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the alleged mastermind of attack on Mumbai 2008 as per Government of India.
There are many people who have bounties on their heads by US Government, and all of those are hiding somewhere on earth and some are believed to be dead already. Most of them are from Muslim world who are fighting for the injustice done to them by the ruling elite of this world, particularly USA. This list includes the leader of mighty Afghan Taliban Mullah Mohammad Umar.
This list also includes Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the leader of Jamat Ud Dawah, a well-known and diversified charitable organization, with award of certificate by United Nation for the work it did in massive earthquake of 2005 in Northern Pakistan which is an evidence of its efficiency in the field of social welfare. But the head of the same JuD is also considered to be the leader of LeT, a militant organization working for the freedom of Jammu and Kashmir which is under the occupation of India.
After the siege of Mumbai in 2008, in which around 180 people died, LeT was blamed by Indian authorities for the attacks. An aggressive media campaign was launched against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed around the globe. This resulted in pressuring the UN Security Council members to vote against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed for appeasement of India.
Pakistani Government under severe pressure from the Western Countries to take action against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and his organization put him under house arrest. Rahman Malik, the Interior Minister at that time, launched FIR against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed for Mumbai attacks, but after due process, Lahore high court rejected the case against him due to lack of evidence.
After the decision of Lahore High Court, Hafiz Saeed and his organization resumed their activities, this time with higher intensity and commitment than before due to increase popularity in masses of Pakistan. Thus, frustrated US Government tried repeatedly to pressurize Pakistani Government to take action but failed every time.
However, Indian lobbies in US senate and congress devilishly put pressure on US Government to take (symbolic) action against Hafiz Saeed and JuD. While US had no evidence against Hafiz Saeed as he done nothing wrong but motivate people in understanding the interest of Pakistan and standing up for their future, but nevertheless on 3rd April 2012, US announced bounty of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed, during US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman visit of India. This clearly shows that it was an indecent act to appease the India Government. US Undersecretary of State while addressing a gathering at the Aspen Institute on her maiden visit to India, said that both Saeed and his brother-in-law Abdul Rehman Makki carried a bounty on their head. The latter was a co-founder of the banned outfit according to US authorities and carries a smaller $3 million bounty.
However without any evidence, US authorities soon started facing difficult questions regarding legality of the money that was offered for Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. Firstly, US authorities failed to provide admissible evidences for the court of law against Hafiz Saeed, knowing this, Hafiz Saeed after that frequently appeared on local Pakistani channels, challenging US and Indian authorities for an open trial in any international forum acceptable by US and India. He even gave interview to CNN’s correspondent in Pakistan Saima Mohsin, again bluntly challenging US and India for an open trial.
Secondly, bounties are offered for the fugitives or for those who are hiding, but Hafiz Saeed was not hiding anywhere neither he was a fugitive, so in other words, US authorities made themselves a laughing stock. In response, Saeed held a press conference in Pakistan to make fun of the bounty. “I am here, I am visible. America should give that reward money to me,” he said. “I will be in Lahore tomorrow. America can contact me whenever it wants to.”
After realizing their mistake, they began to clear their stance on the money imposed against Hafiz Saeed which made India unhappy and undone all the goodwill that was built after the announcement of bounty.
At State Department press briefing, State Department spokesman Mark Toner tried to explain the nature of the bounty. Here is what he had to say about the bounty;
“Just to clarify, the $10 million is for information not about his location but information that leads to an arrest or conviction. And this is information that could withstand judicial scrutiny. So I think what’s important here is we’re not seeking this guy’s location,” Toner said. “We all know where he is. Every journalist in Pakistan and in the region knows how to find him. But we’re looking for information that can be usable to convict him in a court of law.”
Reporters at the briefing pointed out that Saeed has already been indicted in India so presumably the Indians have plenty of evidence to convict him.
“Look, I think we’re trying to, you know, get information that can be used to put this gentleman behind bars,” Toner said. “There is information, there’s intelligence that, you know, is not necessarily usable in a court of law.” Mark Toner said in response.
The above statement also raised questions at the actions of UN which was taken against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, and it also proved that US and Indian authorities have no evidence against Hafiz Saeed, so the word bounty seems just propaganda and is useless in this case.
Later in the month of April, American Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said that US government did not announce any bounty for Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, a suspect in the Mumbai terror attacks case. He blamed the Pakistani media for “misreporting” the issue.
“Pakistani media is very active and responsible but it misreported the issue of Hafiz Saeed. Though Hafiz Saeed is a suspected accused of the Mumbai terror attacks, the US government didn’t place any bounty/head money for him,” he added.
These words of Cameron Munter sums up the situation very nicely, there is no bounty on Hafiz Saeed, it is the money offered by US authorities to get admissible evidences against Hafiz Saeed in the court of law.
But still some section of irresponsible media utilizing false principles of yellow journalism using propaganda of bounty against Hafiz Saeed to sell news and make profits in Pakistan while majority of Indian media as governmental policy utilizes it during the coverage of activities on LoC. Indian media should rise up to the truth and stop this propaganda of head money against Hafiz Saeed, especially after former Chief of Army Staff General Shankar Roychowdhury admitted that India has no evidence against Hafiz Saeed but only news that comes from media, in a conversation with a private Pakistani channel on 13th August 2013.
After all the discussion, this can be seen that the Government of United State of America has placed bounty first and seeking evidences after that. US Government has placed bounty on a man that is considered a symbol of social welfare, relief and charity by majority of Pakistanis and also declared by a Pakistani Court. To put head money and then seeking the community to provide evidence (which is still not being provided) is to make mockery of Pakistani judiciary.
Twitter handle of Junaid Ahmed Khan: @JunaidKhanACCA