"A Pakistan-based terror group carried out 26/11 attacks. Hafiz Saeed has no utility." What's Pakistan hinting at?

A bigger question that was left unanswered was whether Islamabad enlisted Hafiz Saeed to carry out the 26/11 terror attacks.

If you are an Indian, there is nothing surprising about these remarks. We Indians have kind of always known that the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai involved Pakistan in one way or another. Yet, this is the most honest an (ex)high-ranking Pakistan official has got until now in admitting culpability for the terror incident that left 166 people dead.

“26/11 Mumbai attack carried out by a terror group based in Pakistan is classic trans-border terrorist event,” a former National Security Advisor (NSA) of Pakistan, Mahmud Ali Durrani, said during his address at a security conference in New Delhi on Monday. The revelation was made at the 19th Asian Security Conference organised by Institute of Defence and Studies and Analyses, a security think-tank.

Durrani was the NSA at the time of 26/11 attacks, so his statement carry weight and risk putting his government in an awkward situation. Pakistan has until now denied its role in the Islamist militant attack in any way whatsoever. Indian investigators allege that Pakistan is stonewalling efforts to bring the radical Islamist perpetrators behind the attack to justice.

New Delhi also accuses Pakistan of not properly investigating Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, who India considers as mastermind behind the Mumbai terrorist assault.

Also read: Hafiz Saeed called national threat by Pakistan’s defense minister. But India’s joy may be short-lived

“Hafiz Saeed has no utility, we should act against him,” Durrani was also quoted as saying during his speech.

Durrani’s statements give rise to at least two damning insinuations that would make Pakistan’s leadership fret.

  1. Is Durrani indicating that Saeed did have utility for Pakistan before, or at the time of the attacks?
  2. Did Islamabad let a terror group operate from Pakistan. Is Hafiz Saeed part of the terror group that was named by Durrani?

Also read: Not involved in terrorism inside Pakistan, Mr Hafiz Saeed? What about your terror acts in other countries?

Saeed is currently under house arrest in Pakistan after being booked under anti-terrorism law in January. The Islamic preacher and a select few of his followers have also been slapped with a travel ban prohibiting them from leaving Pakistan. Saeed enjoys massive popularity among conservative sections of Pakistan’s society, which has presented a strong headwind to his persecution by authorities.