NEW DELHI: The White House on Saturday strongly condemned the release of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed from his house arrest in Pakistan and called for his immediate re-arrest and prosecution.
It said there will be repercussions for US-Pakistan relations unless Islamabad took action to detain and charge Saeed.
“As President Trump’s South Asia policy makes clear, US 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 Hafiz Saeed is a step in the wrong direction,” the White House said in a statement.
“(Hafiz) 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,” it said in the 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.
Saeed, who has an American bounty of $10 million on his head, walked free on Thursday midnight after his 10-month detention ended. The Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case, pushing back against India’s efforts to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to justice.
It was rare for the US government to issue a statement during the Thanksgiving holidays, but the State Department felt that the issue was urgent enough to ignore this tradition.
Hafiz Saeed on Saturday “postponed” a scheduled press conference he had called to respond to the demand by the US for his re-arrest after he was released from detention by Pakistan.
A spokesman of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), an LeT front Saeed heads, said he had “postponed his scheduled presser following riots in the country in the wake of police action against the activists of Tahreek-i-Labaik Pakistan in Islamabad.”
Saeed has asked Pakistan to desist from holding peace talks with India. He has reiterated that the US pressured Pakistan to detain him on India’s request.