WASHINGTON: The White House said on Saturday there would be repercussions for US-Pakistan relations unless Islamabad took action to detain and charge Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.
“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 White House said in a statement.
“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,” it added.
A day earlier, the US expressed serious concerns over Saeed’s release.
“The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Seed has been released from house arrest in Pakistan,” said a statement issued by the US embassy.
It described the LeT as a designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians including Americans in terrorist attacks.
Saeed was released on Friday morning after the Lahore High Court rejected the government’s request seeking further extension in his house arrest. The review board of the High Court said there was not sufficient evidence to keep the Jamaatud Dawa chief under house arrest.
Saeed and four of his aides were detained in January this year after the government told a court they presented a threat to peace and security. The move was largely attributed to US pressure.
In May 2008, the United States Department of the Treasury designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations under UNSC R1267 in December 2008 following the November 2008 Mumbai attack in which six American citizens were killed.
It said LeT and several of its front organisations, leaders, and operatives remain under both State Department and Treasury Department sanctions. Since 2012, the United States has offered a $10 million reward for information bringing Saeed to justice.