US warns after Hafiz Saeed’s release

White House said on Saturday there would be repercussions for US-Pakistan relations unless Islamabad took action to detain and charge newly freed Hafiz Saeed, accused of masterminding a 2008 assault in Mumbai, India.

A Pakistani court ordered the release on Wednesday of Hafiz Saeed, who was put under house arrest in January. The White House on Saturday urged Pakistan to arrest Saeed, calling for him to be prosecuted over the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including Americans.

“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,” the White House said in a statement.

This is the first time the United States has acknowledged that the recent decision could have an impact on relations between the two countries, who are allies but view each other with suspicion.

Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks in which 10 gunmen attacked targets in India’s largest city. The violence brought nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India to the brink of war.

US has urged Pakistan to re-arrest and charge cleric Hafiz Saeed, who is accused by the US and India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Mr Saeed, who had been under house arrest since January, was released on Thursday after a court rejected arguments that he was a threat. BBC reports

US has sought immediate re-arrest and prosecution of the Mumbai terror attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saaed, warning Pakistan that there would be repercussions for bilateral ties if it fails to act.

The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) head, who carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for terror activities, walked free on Friday after the Pakistan government decided against detaining him further in any other case. He was under detention since January this year.

In a strongly worded statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Saturday said the US strongly condemns the release of the Lashkar-e-Taiba leader from house arrest and calls for his immediate re-arrest and prosecution.

She said 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.

She said Saeed’s release sends a “deeply troubling message” about Pakistan’s commitment to combating international terrorism and “belies Islamabad’s claims” that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil.

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