A few hours after the Johar Town, Lahore bomb blast some Pakistani journalists were furious, others were laughing their heads off.
One fumed, “BC, we were still chasing the gas leak when India had already reported a huge bomb blast near Hafiz Saeed’s house.”
“There were ball bearings in the injured people and the walls, when the police chief was saying the cause is unknown, and we should not speculate,” said another adding another choice expletive.
A third laughed and narrated, “the first messages from the police were that a blast had occurred at the Expo Center in Johar Town (seven kilometers away from Saeed’s house at the other end of Johar Town) and all beat reporters rushed there to find nothing. By the time we all got to the right place the $%@$ had cordoned off the area.”
Meanwhile, Indian reporters had been fairly accurately briefed within 30 minutes of the blast that a massive explosion had taken place near Saeed’s house.
Based on this, people in Pakistan are drawing the conclusion that Indian intelligence was responsible for this act of terror in Lahore, the heart of Pakistan.
Whether a third party like ISIS was used, is still being investigated, but at least three innocent lives were lost, and at least two dozen persons including policemen were injured, with heavy damage to people’s homes.
Speculation About Hafiz Saeed Being the Target
There is no definitive answer to whether Saeed was in the house or not, but journalists on both sides agree that he was the target. And most suspect that he was in the house.
The fact that his house had police pickets and barriers outside it, because of which the bomb-carrying vehicle was parked a hundred meters away, is a giveaway of sorts. The fact that reporters were sent on a wild-goose chase to secure the area around Saeed’s house is another sign. Intelligence agencies have confiscated CCTV cameras, cables and footage from homes and offices in the area. The obvious reason would be to trace the bomber(s), but the less obvious might also be to leave no trace of Saeed’s evacuation.
Off the record, I was told that the one thing, which is certain, is that Saeed was not in Kot Lakhpat Jail. Yet, some journalists pushed the official line that “Hafiz Saeed is safe in Kot Lakhpat Jail.”
When I questioned a friend why, he answered with a snort, “Today we are struggling between truth and national interest.” Another remarked that we had escaped another 2 May, referring to Osama Bin Laden being taken out.
Bringing the Spotlight Back on Hafiz Saeed Amid FATF Flak
But this was a very dirty operation.
As far as we know, nothing happened to Hafiz Saeed, there was a lot of collateral damage and the attack falls squarely in the category of terrorism. What it has managed to do, however, is put Hafiz Saeed back in the headlines exactly at the time of Pakistan’s FATF review ongoing in Paris.
It would not be unreasonable to assume that perhaps that was the actual aim of this blast: to illustrate that a designated terrorist who is supposed to be in the dock on terror financing charges, is in fact being coddled in his own home.
Another plausible theory is that this was a spoiler of the peace negotiations taking place between the intelligence agencies of the two countries - and it could be the work of hawks on either side. History of the two countries is littered with sabotaged peace efforts.
Why Won’t Pakistan Act Against Terrorists Who’ve Outlived Their ‘Utility’?
But the most interesting question that arose was why Pakistan doesn’t expend the terrorists once they’ve outlived their utility - after all, proxies and agents are often found dead once they’re exposed and new ones take their place.
It’s hard to say, but one reason could be that these persons still have some utility - Saeed used his leverage with the terror group that had attacked and held the GHQ hostage for several hours, years ago. He was flown in on a helicopter to negotiate the release. And an obvious reason is that of blowback, from outfits like the LeT/JuD itself, and also from those within serving ranks who are ideologically aligned with the terror groups.
Unfortunately, it appears Shakespeare’s words describe the mess rather well:
“I am in blood
Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more
Returning were as tedious as go o’er”
(Gul Bukhari is a Pakistani journalist and rights activist. She tweets @GulBukhari. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)