The United States has demanded immediate re-arrest and prosecution of Hafiz Saeed, the head of banned outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD). Saeed, the Mumbai terror attack mastermind, who carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free on Friday after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case.
Outraged over the developments in Pakistan, the Trump administration has also warned Islamabad that there would be “repercussions” for bilateral ties if it fails to take “decisive action” against the notorious terrorist.
“As President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy makes clear, the US seeks a constructive relationship with Pakistan, but expects decisive action against militant and terrorist groups on Pakistani soil that are a threat to the region. The release of Saeed is a step in the wrong direction,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Saeed was under house arrest since January this year.
In a strongly worded statement, Sanders on Saturday (local time zone) said the US strongly condemns the release of the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader from house arrest and calls for his immediate re-arrest and prosecution.
“If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan’s global reputation,” Sanders said, reflecting the Trump administration’s outrage at Saeed’s release.
She said Saeed’s release, after Pakistan’s failure to prosecute or charge him, sends a “deeply troubling message” about Pakistan’s commitment to combating international terrorism and “belies Pakistani claims” that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil.
The Pakistani government now “has an opportunity to demonstrate its seriousness in confronting all forms of terrorism, without distinction, by arresting and charging Hafiz Saeed for his crimes”, she added.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the attack. The White House press secretary said LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens.
Saeed himself is a notorious terrorist who is accused of having masterminded the November 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans, she said.
A clear international consensus exists regarding Saeed’s culpability as he was designated by the United Nations under UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008, she said.
The Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice, Sanders said.
(With inputs from PTI)