Washington has expressed concern over Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) Chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed running for office in the upcoming general election.
The United States (US) State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert, during a press briefing on Tuesday, said that “we [US] would certainly have concerns about him running for office.”
LHC orders release of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed
The JuD that the US accuses of being a front for an anti-India militant group, entered mainstream politics when it formed a new party called the Milli Muslim League (MML) in August this year. The party follows the ideology of JuD, which the US says is a front for banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and is run by Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. Saeed, however, has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks.
Calling Saeed the "mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks", the US spokesperson said, “It’s [LeT] a group that the United States Government considers to be a terror organisation.”
Saeed was released in November this year after the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected a government’s request seeking further extension to his house arrest. The review board of the court said there was not sufficient evidence to keep the JuD chief under house arrest.
Saeed and four of his aides were detained in January 2017 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 US Department of the Treasury dubbed Saeed a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations (UN) under UNSC R1267 in December 2008 following the Mumbai attacks. The LeT and several of its front organisations, leaders, and operatives remain under both the State Department and the Treasury Department sanctions. Since 2012, the US has placed a $10 million reward for information bringing Saeed to justice.
“I can tell you that his organisation – his organisation that was responsible for those attacks – is considered a foreign terror organisation. It’s considered a foreign terror organisation by the US government for a reason and for a good reason,” said Nauert.
US warns of repercussions for Pakistan over Hafiz Saeed's release
The US State Department Spokesperson added, “I want to remind folks we have a $10 million reward for the Justice Programme that would reward for information that would bring him to justice. So I want to make that clear so that everybody knows, $10 million out for this guy, and we would certainly have concerns about him running for office.”
Responding to a question about the LHC’s decision to set Saeed free, Nauert said, “I would imagine that if we had any intelligence – and that’s not an area that I can discuss, anyway – but we would certainly share it with the Pakistanis on that front. I hope they’ll do the right thing.”
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ