Arrest, book Saeed for sins: United States to Pak

Hafiz Saeed Head of the religious party Jamaat-ud-Dawa
Hafiz Saeed Head of the religious party Jamaat-ud-Dawa
Author

27 November, 2017

"It is the responsibility of the Pakistani government to fulfil its global obligations and take action against terrorists like Hafiz Saeed", External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday.

Instead, Mr Saeed has spent much of the last decade being placed under house arrest and then released.

Saeed was put under house arrest after the Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009.

Saeed's release could once again sour USA relations with nuclear-armed Islamabad, which had seen an apparent improvement after the rescue by Pakistan's military of American hostage Caitlan Coleman and her family on October 13. The release of Saeed is a step in the wrong direction.

"(Hafiz) Saeed's release, after Pakistan's failure to prosecute or charge him, sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan's commitment to (combating) worldwide terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil", the White House said in a statement.

Pakistan frees Hafiz Saeed, alleged mastermind of Mumbai attacks

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief, who carries a $10 million United States bounty for his role in terrorist activities, was let go after Thursday midnight by Pakistani authorities in Lahore after a court refused to extend his house arrest citing lack of evidence.

India's External Affairs Ministry condemned the release, and said in a statement that a "self-confessed and United Nations proscribed terrorist was being allowed to walk free and continue with his evil agenda". In 2010, he told The Independent: "They make me out to be the biggest and most evil terrorist". The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to re-investigate the Mumbai terror attack case and also demanded trial of Hafiz Saeed and LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the light of evidence it had provided to Islamabad. His situation under house arrest is not irksome; Mr Saeed has a large property in Lahore and is protected not only by his own armed guards but by armed police officers.

Pakistan denies that. While Saeed was under house arrest, his JuD charity launched a political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML), which has won thousands of votes in by-elections.

"Just as I am free today, Kashmir will also be free one day", Saeed said after midnight Thursday. The assault brought nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India to the brink of war. That came about after Pakistani military's purported rescue of American hostage Caitlan Coleman and her family after five years of Taliban captivity. It now remains to be seen if Pakistan will fall in line, and what the White House will do if it does not.

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