RAWALPINDI / WASHINGTON: Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of banned group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and chief of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), publicly announced his location to the US and expressed his surprise over US’ ‘lack of knowledge’.
During a press conference in Rawalpindi on Wednesday, Saeed said that he will be in Lahore tomorrow and the US can contact him whenever it wants. “The bounty is always set on people who are in hiding… There is no case against me in any American court,” he maintained while terming the bounty absurd.
“America has gone blind in its enmity against Islam… After facing defeat in Afghanistan, it has resorted to such acts. This shows that the Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) has succeeded in its campaign,” added Saeed.
Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam chief Maulana Samiul Haq also announced that Saeed, according to the law, is ready to present himself before any court. “The Difa-e-Pakistan Council, to condemn the US bounty, announces of holding a countrywide protest on Friday.”
Haq added that it was the government’s responsibility to provide security to Saeed. “The government should give a clear message to the US that it should stop interfering in Pakistan’s internal affairs. There is now no doubt in the fact that the US is not our friend, but our enemy.”
He further added that, “The US, in efforts to please India and Israel, wants to increase the drone strikes and operations like that in Abbottabad.”
Award for evidence against Saeed, not whereabouts information: US
Remarking how almost every journalist in Pakistan knew where Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the cleric who founded the Jamaatud Dawa, and on whom the US had recently announced a $10 million bounty State Department spokesperson Mark Toner clarified on Wednesday that the Rewards for Justice notice against Saeed was not for ‘information about his whereabouts’, but to ‘seek evidence that can be used against Saeed’ which will pass “judicial scrutiny” and lead to his conviction, conceding that the information US intelligence and other agencies had thus far was not sufficient to earn them a conviction.
Addressing the daily press briefing, Toner said in response to a question on the JuD leader’s recent public appearance, that unfortunately Saeed was free to give press conferences.
However, he reiterated that the US wanted to bring him to justice. “We are looking for information that would lead to his conviction.”
Toner added that the current information gathered by the US intelligence and other agencies was not enough, and that this (bounty) notice would provide Pakistani authorities with the tools to prosecute the case.
The spokesperson further clarified that the announcement for $10 million on Saeed was to highlight the case and the individual, reiterating that the JuD posed a threat to the region.