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Straight from the Specialists

The hunt for Hafiz Saeed

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The $10 million bounty placed on Hafiz Saeed by the Americans may have been barely noticed in most capital cities but it definitely had an impact in New Delhi and caused a furore in Islamabad. India and Pakistan are the two countries most concerned with Saeed’s health and activities, although for different reasons.

There is no debate among those who fight insurgencies that targeting their leadership pays disproportionate dividends. With such organisations having no democratic culture, it is the personality of the leader or an individual that guides the organisation’s approach. Eliminating such leaders can create a fair degree of disorientation till the new leadership asserts itself. During this process, there is also the possibility of power struggles, break-ups and feuds leading to fragmentation and polarization within the organisation.

Sustained targeting of the leadership deters the emergence of new leaders, with contenders acutely aware of the possible costs. It also has an immediate impact on the leaders’ movement and media interaction, thereby restricting their influence. Of course, media interactions can be organised in secret locations but they cannot be too safe en masse.

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