New Delhi: Ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the US next week, the Trump administration expressed doubts over Pakistan’s intentions in arresting 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind terrorist Hafiz Saeed. Notably, the Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) chief was taken into custody on Wednesday – the seventh time since December 2001, when he was arrested in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on the parliament.
“We’ve seen this happen in the past. And we have been looking for sustained and concrete steps, not just window dressing,” a senior Trump administration official told reporters.
On being asked about the actions that Pakistan has taken against his terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and if the US believes in them, the official said,”Let me reassure you, we are clear eyed about the history here. We’re under no illusions about the support that we could see from Pakistan’s military intelligence services to these groups. So we will look for concrete action.”
“I noticed that Pakistan has taken some initial steps such as pledging to seize assets of some of these terrorist groups. And, of course, they put under arrest yesterday Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks,” said the official requesting anonymity.
When reporters asked questions on the links between Pakistani intelligence services and terrorist groups, the official asserted,”Quite frankly, the previous arrest of Hafiz Muhammed Saeed hasn’t made a difference and the LeT has been has been able to operate. So we’re monitoring the situation. We do have concerns about link between these groups and Pakistan intelligence services in military. That’s no secret.”
Earlier on Thursday, India too had wondered if the arrest of Saeed this time would be “more than a cosmetic exercise” as Pakistan has enacted the ‘drama’ of his arrest and release several times since 2001.
On Wednesday, Saeed, who was travelling to Gujranwala from Lahore to appear before an anti-terrorism court to seek pre-arrest bail, was taken into custody. Saeed was later presented in an anti-terrorism court and sent to prison.
The arrest comes days ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the US where he is to meet President Donald Trump at the White House.
Last month, Pakistani authorities had filed 23 cases against Saeed and his aides for terror financing. At the time, the MEA had also termed the steps by Pakistan as “cosmetic steps”, and said that Islamabad’s sincerity would be judged on the basis of its taking “verifiable, credible and irreversible action” on terror and not “half-hearted measures”.
(With agency inputs)