NEW DELHI, Feb. 19: Pakistan's decision to further curb Jamaatud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed's activities by naming him under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) did not evoke an immediate response from India but put put the focus on whether Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharifis being provided some leeway by the new army chief Qamar Bajwa.
The Indian government is understood to be ambivalent about the move and could continue to hedge its response by seeking sustained and credible action against the 26/11 mastermind given that Saeed has been a close ally of the army and ISI.
Responding to Saeed's house arrest earlier, the government had said Pakistan needed to come up with a "credible'' crackdown on Saeed and others involved in cross-border terrorism.
However, if as reports from Pakistan suggest, his naming in the ATA curbs his ability to hold public rallies or address gatherings, it will be welcomed by New Delhi given his use of such rallies to spew venom at India.
So far, there have been indications that General Bajwa is strongly focused on internal security missions promising swift action against terrorist attacks like the bombing of a sufi shrine, claimed by the IS group.
It needs to be seen if this stance persists or, as has happened before, reverts to a hardline posture.
However, the government also believes that while this is an acknowledgement of Saeed's involvement in terrorism, naming him in the Act needs to be followed by implementation. Many within the government have expressed concern that even Saeed's house arrest had more to do with the change in US administration than any genuine inclination to address New Delhi's concerns over India-specific terror groups active in Pakistan.
Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said the action against Saeed has to be treated with skepticism as any serious and sustained move against Saeed would mean a fundamental change in Pakistan's India policy.
"With the backing of China and with its relevance in Afghanistan being recognised even by Russia, it is doubtful that Pakistan is recalculating its strategy towards India,'' said Sibal.
"Pakistan has also not paid any price for its sustained tryst with terrorism. This is likely to ward off any likely action by the Trump administration and the widening feeling that Pakistan needs to be held accountable,'' he added.
The timing of the action against Saeed though is significant as it comes close on the heels of a series of steps taken by Sharif which seem to suggest that he is providing a window to India to re-engage with Islamabad.
After the release of Indian fishermen and also Indian soldier Babulal Chavan, some see in Sharif's decision to ignore Basit's claim to the post of foreign secretary a positive development for ties with India.
Seen as too hawkish on India, Basit in fact has been recalled by Islamabad, as reported by TOI on Friday. India has also made some positive moves, notably its decision to invite Pakistan for the South Asia Speakers' Summit which it is hosting this month and also its decision to promote people to people contact with Pakistan by sponsoring the partnership of Indian authors at the Karachi Literature Festival. This would have been unimaginable only three months ago as India seemed bent on isolating Pakistan completely after the Uri attack.(TOI)
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