Concerned about Hafiz Saeed running for office in Pakistan, says US

Washington, DC, United States Published: Dec 20, 2017, 10:04 AM(IST)

JuD is reported to contest the 2018 general elections in Pakistan under the banner of the Milli Muslim League, which is yet to be registered with the EC. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

The US has said it is concerned about JuD chief and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed running for office in Pakistan despite the "guy" carrying a $10 million bounty on his head for terror activities.

Saeed, also the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, had earlier confirmed that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) 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 a 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.

The UN has also designated him as a global 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 (LeT) 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 Pakistanis on that front. I hope they'll do the right thing," Nauert said.

She expressed hope that the Pakistan government would do the right thing and remind the people across the country that he was carrying a US bounty on his head.

The banned JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which 166 people, including six Americans, were killed. 

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