White House condemns Pakistan's release of militant suspect

Kristopher Drake
November 26, 2017

Pakistan-US ties could be affected if Islamabad does not act to rearrest and prosecute a mastermind of the deadly siege in India's Mumbai almost a decade ago, the White House warned on Saturday.

Saeed and four of his aides were put under house arrest in January for 90 days under local laws by the Punjab provincial government in Pakistan. One of the targets of the attackers was the Chabad House in Mumbai, where Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were taken hostage and killed along with four other Jewish visitors there.

The violence brought nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India to the brink of war.

Indian commandos prepare to storm the Nariman Chabad House in Mumbai during the 2008 terror attacks. Saeed's release will further strain Indo-Pak ties which have already been ambushed since the last 70 years of Independence. "The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes".

Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba founder Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the 26/11 atta-cks on Mumbai nine years ago, who was freed from house arrest late on Thursday night, on Friday attacked Pakistan's ousted PM Nawaz Sharif as a "traitor" for advocating peace with India.

The Home Ministry Friday said Saeed's release and his comments on Kashmir ahead of the anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai attacks are nothing but re-articulation of the agenda of terrorists who have "thrived" across the border.

"The release of Saeed is a step in the wrong direction".

Pakistan frees Hafiz Saeed, alleged mastermind of Mumbai attacks

In a swift reaction, a statement issued by US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert and distributed by the US embassy in Delhi on Friday said, "The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed has been released from house arrest in Pakistan".

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif expressed deep anguish over alleged human rights violations in Kashmir and arrests of Kashmiri leaders, saying the intensified cordon and search operations are violative of the Kashmiris' dignity and the sanctity of their families.

President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of harboring "agents of chaos" and providing safe havens to militant groups waging an insurgency against a US -backed government in Kabul.

Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of supporting Afghan militants including the Taliban.

The Trump administration has been intensifying pressure on Pakistan to fight extremists and drive them from hideouts in Pakistani territory.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the charge.

Michael Kugelman, of the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank in Washington, said he did not expect an imminent change in relations between the two countries, but Saeed's release would be a critical point for Washington as it considers it options.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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