Hafiz Saeed release: US threatens Pakistan with 'repercussions'
The US is visibly annoyed at Pakistan's recent release of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief, Hafiz Saeed. It recently threatened Pakistan with "repercussions for bilateral relations" if Saeed is not re-arrested and prosecuted soon. The warning from Washington comes as the US seems to be growing increasingly impatient with Pakistan's inaction against terror. What repercussions could Pakistan face? Read on to know.
On 22nd November, a Pakistani court ordered 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed's release from house arrest after the government failed to submit any evidence against him. This comes even as the government expressed fears about sanctions from the international community if the JuD chief is released. Saeed was detained in January under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. His house arrest was extended at least twice.
Hafiz Saeed is the chief of Pakistan-based terrorist organization LeT which has been banned in the US, UK, EU, Russia and Australia. Since Pakistan banned LeT, he has continued his activities under the garb of its political-wing, Jama'at ud Da'wah. He has masterminded multiple strikes on India, including the 26/11 attacks and 2001 Parliament attack. Saeed is on the National Investigation Agency's most-wanted list.
In a statement, White House condemned Saeed's release and called for his "immediate re-arrest and prosecution." It noted that his release "sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan's commitment to combating international terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it won't provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil." Additionally, Washington warned Islamabad against "repercussions" for US-Pakistan relations and "Pakistan's global reputation" if Hafiz wasn't re-arrested.
The US hasn't specified what kind of repercussions Pakistan would have to face. It could move to strip Pakistan of its status as a non-NATO ally, thereby denying it certain military and financial benefits or declare Islamabad a "state-sponsor of terrorism." It could also implement cuts to economic/military aid such as the instance where it rejected Pakistan's request for subsidized sale of F-16 fighter-jets.