The United States has concerns about Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed running for office in Pakistan in 2018, a senior Trump Administration official has said.
The JuD head and Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder had earlier confirmed that his organisation 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 leader of LeT,” 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 told reporters.
Saeed, who has a $10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, was freed by Pakistan on November 24.
He is a United Nations and US designated terrorist.
“I want to remind folks, we have a $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 -- $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 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.
“I hope that they will do the right thing and remind folks across Pakistan, we have a $10 million reward for this guy,” the spokesperson said.
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 were killed.