Washington: The US has concerns about JuD chief Hafiz Saeed running for office in Pakistan in 2018, a senior Trump Administration official has said.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head and LeT founder had earlier confirmed that his organisation Jammat-ud-Dawah will contest the 2018 general elections in Pakistan under the banner of the Milli Muslim League, which is yet to be registered with the Election Commission.
“Saeed, who was released by Pakistan from house arrest last November resulting in angry reaction from the US, was the “mastermind” of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and is leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
“It’s a group that the US government considers to be a terror organisation. We have many conversations with the government of Pakistan. One of the things that happened recently was that this guy was held on house arrest. Pakistan released him from house arrest, and now there’s word that he may be running for some sort of office,” she said reporters here.
Saeed, who has a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, was freed by Pakistan on November 24. He is a UN and US designated terrorist.
“I want to remind folks, we have a USD 10 million Reward for Justice programme that would reward for information that would bring him to justice. So I want to make that clear, so that everybody knows — USD 10 million, out for this guy. And we would certainly have concerns about him running for office,” Nauert said.
The US had also strongly condemned the release of the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader from house arrest and had called for his immediate re-arrest and prosecution.
However, top Pakistani diplomats based in the US have said that there is no evidence against Saeed.
“I can tell you 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,” 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 Pakistani’s on that front. I hope they’ll do the right thing,” Nauert said.
“I hope that they will do the right thing and remind folks across Pakistan, we have a USD 10 million reward for this guy,” the spokesperson said.
The banned JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people were killed.