WASHINGTON: The United States and India have called for Hafiz Saeed’s prosecution to the fullest extent of the law following Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s recent remark that no action could be taken against the UN-designated terrorist.
Abbasi, during an interview to Geo TV on Tuesday, had referred to Saeed as ‘sahib’ (sir).
“There is no case against Hafiz Saeed ‘sahib’ in Pakistan. Only when there is a case can there be action,” Abbasi had said when asked why there was no action against Saeed.
Reacting strongly to the comments, US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US believes that Saeed should be prosecuted and they “have told Pakistan as much.”
“We believe that he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He is listed by the UNSC 1267, the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee for targeted sanctions due to his affiliation with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is a designated foreign terror organisation,” Nauert told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday.
“We have made our points and concerns to the Pakistani government very clear. We believe that this individual should be prosecuted,” Nauert said.
Responding to a question, Nauert said the US has “certainly seen” the reports about Abbasi’s comment on Saeed. “We regard him as a terrorist, a part of a foreign terrorist organisation. He was the mastermind, we believe, of the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed many people, including Americans as well,” she said.
Saeed was released from house arrest in November. The US has labelled JuD the “terrorist front” for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a group Saeed founded in 1987. LeT was responsible for carrying the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs echoed US sentiments, saying, “If somebody is designated [a] global terrorist, it’s done based on [a] lot of evidence available in public domain.”
“You can close your eyes, pretend nothing happened but they (Pakistan) have to realise what’s in front of them and take action against such people,” said Raveesh Kumar, the ministry’s spokesman.