US Toughens Stand on Mumbai Blast Mastermind Saeed

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Washington, DC – The United States on Thursday minced no words in lambasting the Pakistani government for its stand on Hafiz Saeed – the accused mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks – and reiterated its call for his prosecution.

On an assertion by the Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that there were no judicial cases against Saeed in the country, the US State Department confirmed that it had seen the reports and conveyed its unhappiness to Islamabad.

Referring to Saeed respectfully as “Sahib” (Sir) during an interview to Geo TV on Tuesday, Abbasi said, “There is no case against Hafiz Saeed Sahib in Pakistan.” In the same interview, Abbasi expressed inability to take action against Saeed because there was no case, adding, “Only when there is a case, can there be action.”

Replying to a question from IAT on the subject, Heather Nauert, the State Department Spokesperson told journalists, “We’ve certainly seen the reports about this, that the Pakistani Government has said that no case has been registered against this individual, Hafiz Saeed Sahib.”

“We regard him as a terrorist, a part of a foreign terrorist organization. He was the mastermind, we believe, of the 2008 Mumbai attacks which killed many people, including Americans as well,” announced Nauert.

Addressing the daily State Department briefing, Nauert said, “We have made our points and our concerns to the Pakistani Government very clear. We believe that this individual should be prosecuted.”

Reiterating Washington’s position, Nauert said, “The Pakistani Government released him from house arrest not that long ago. We believe that he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Citing the UN stand on him, Nauert told journalists, “He is listed by the UN Security Council 1267, the al-Qaida Sanctions Committee for targeted sanctions due to his affiliation with Lashkar-e Tayyiba, which is a designated foreign terror organization.”

Identifying Saeed as a designated terrorist and the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attacks, Nauert said, “So I just want to remind people of that, of who this individual is, and make it clear that we have addressed our concerns with the Pakistani Government.”

Riding on the strong reaction from the US in response to IAT’s question, Indian foreign policy gurus also called for the prosecution of Saeed, the accused mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

“He (Saeed) is a globally designated terrorist. He is the prime organizer of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and Pakistan has to fulfill its international obligations and demonstrate seriousness in taking action against him and stop hiding behind flimsy excuses,” said Raveesh Kumar, the Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson.

Saeed, who carries a $10 million US bounty, was released from house arrest in November last year. He had been under house arrest in the city of Lahore since January. The fire-brand cleric founded the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LeT) militant group in the 1990s and, when that was banned, revived a much older organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) in 2002. Saeed maintains JuD is a Islamic welfare organisation, but the US says it is a front for LeT.

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