US concerned over Hafiz Saeed’s foray into electoral politics

  • Hafiz Saeed-led organisation is considered a foreign terror organization: State Department
Pakistan

WASHINGTON – The United States has expressed its concerns about Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed running for office in Pakistan in 2018, a senior Trump Administration official said on Tuesday.

Briefing the press, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that US considered Hafiz Saaed, a mastermind of Mumbai attacks.

“A man who is affiliated with LeT, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, one of the terror groups. It’s a group that the United States Government considers to be a terror organization” she said while referring to LeT and JuD.

The official detailed that the Trump administration was in contact with Islamabad regarding the release of Saeed.

“I want to remind folks we have a $10 million Reward for Justice program that would reward for information that would bring him to justice. So I want to make that clear so that everybody knows, $10 million out for this guy, and we would certainly have concerns about him running for office” Nauert  said in strongly worded remarks.

To a question whether US has shared any tangible evidence of his activities related to terror, the spokesperson alleged that the Saeed-led group was a terror organisation and Washington would definitely substantiate its claims regarding the allegations.

“I can tell you that his organization – his organization that was responsible for those attacks – is considered a foreign terror organization. It’s considered a foreign terror organization by the U.S. Government for a reason and for a good reason. I would imagine that if we had any intelligence, we would certainly share it with the Pakistanis on that front” Nauert added.

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Hafiz Saeed, who denies involvement in Mumbai attacks was detained along with his four aides under Section 11-EEE (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1977, on January 31 this year.

In October, the government did not extend the notification for their detention under ATA sections and withdrew application pending before the federal review board for their extension.

The authorities, however, decided to keep Saeed and his aides under house arrest under Section 3 of the MPO (Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance).

The Lahore High Court ordered in November to release the JuD chief  after which he announced contesting next general election through the platform of the Milli Muslim League (MML).