The United States strongly condemns the release of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed from house arrest in Pakistan and calls for his immediate re-arrest and prosecution.
LeT is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in terrorist attacks, including a number of American citizens. Saeed himself is a notorious terrorist who stands accused of having masterminded the November 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six American citizens.
A clear international consensus exists regarding Saeed’s culpability—he was designated by the United Nations under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008. The Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the United States, since 2012, has offered a $10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Saeed’s release, after Pakistan’s failure to prosecute or charge him, sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan’s commitment to combatting international terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil. If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan’s global reputation.
As President Donald J. Trump’s South Asia policy makes clear, the United States seeks a constructive relationship with Pakistan, but expects decisive action against militant and terrorist groups on Pakistani soil that are a threat to the region. The release of Saeed is a step in the wrong direction.
The Pakistani government now has an opportunity to demonstrate its seriousness in confronting all forms of terrorism, without distinction, by arresting and charging Hafiz Saeed for his crimes.