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WASHINGTON: Expressing deep concern over the release of globally-designated Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the Trump administration on Friday called for him to be arrested and charged for his crimes.
“The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed has been released from house arrest in Pakistan. LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens. The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes,” the US State Department said in a formal statement, a day after Saeed was freed by a Pakistani court.
The statement recalled that in May 2008, the United States Department of the Treasury designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. Saeed was also individually designated by the United Nations under UNSCR 1267 in December 2008 following the November 2008 Mumbai attack in which 166 people, including six American citizens, were killed, the statement added, in a reminder that contrary to his is claims of being a supporter of the Kashmir insurgency, Saeed is actually a globally-designated terrorist with blood on his hands.
The citation also effectively made the Pakistani establishment and its judicial system accomplices to international terrorism.
“LeT and several of its front organizations, leaders, and operatives remain under both State Department and Treasury Department sanctions. Since 2012, the United States has offered a $10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice,” the statement added.
The US statement came hours after the UN-designated terrorist’s release was celebrated vulgarly by a mob that shouted slogans inviting more death on India and showered him with rose petals.
“I am not struggling for any personal gains. My struggle is aimed at safeguarding the interests of Pakistan. I want Kashmir’s freedom from India and this is my crime. I was arrested for it,” Saeed, who like many Jihadi leaders has made a business out of Kashmir insurgency and fattened themselves, told his followers.
With a US bounty on him and a UN designation as a terrorist, Saeed could be a prime candidate for elimination through a drone attack, but Washington has pussyfooted around him, unmindful of the fact that he oversaw the killing of nearly 160 people, including six Americans, while hoping the country’s dodgy legal system will actually bring him to justice.
The incarceration itself is widely seen as a sham considering the Pakistani military oversees a “house arrest” that implicitly provides such terrorists with protection, while arranging conjugal visits and other perks for them.
Saeed and his LeT/JuD is the favored fighting arm of the Pakistani military, coddled and cossetted in its undeclared war against India. In recent days though the Pakistan establishment has indicated it is willing to throw the Haqqani group – its fighting arm on the western front against US and Afghanistan – under the bus to meet the US demand, while protecting its jihadi assets on its eastern front.
The US Congress also backed this idea by delinking the LeT from the Haqqani group in a provision in a defense bill that would have required Islamabad to take steps to “significantly disrupt” the activities of both. It restricted the requirement only to the Haqqani group, hurting India and emboldening the Pakistani establishment to free Saeed.
The Trump administration was embarrassed into opposing the release since the development set a poor prelude to the visit to India next week of Ivanka Trump, the US President daughter, and also his advisor. The Indian government had condemned the Saeed’s release saying it once again showed the lack of seriousness on the part of Pak government, and also appeared to be an attempt by Pakistani system to mainstream proscribed terrorists.