The United States on Saturday warned Pakistan of “repercussions” to their bilateral ties if Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed was not re-arrested and “charged for his crimes”.
“Saeed’s release, after Pakistan’s failure to prosecute or charge him, sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan’s commitment to combatting international terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said. “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,” AP reported.
The White House did not elaborate on what the repercussions would be. Soon after Saeed was released on Friday, the US had asked that he be taken into custody again. Saeed carries a $10-million bounty.
As President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy makes clear, the United States 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. 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.— The White House, as reported by The Times of India
Saeed, who is seen as being responsible for the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 in which 165 people died, was placed under house arrest in Pakistan in January. The move was seen as a response to pressure from the US to act on terrorism. A court, however, ruled on November 22 that he can be released. After his release, Saeed addressed followers and said he would continue fighting for “the freedom of Pakistan and Kashmir”.
Besides the JuD, Saeed is also linked with the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
India reacted strongly to the decision to release Saeed and said it “confirms Pakistan’s lack of seriousness in bringing terrorists to justice”. “Saeed’s release appears to be an attempt by the Pakistani system to mainstream proscribed terrorists,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said. “It is evident that Pakistan has not changed its policy of shielding and supporting non-state actors, and its true face is visible for all to see.”