United States warns of repercussions for Pakistan over freed militant

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JuD is considered by the United States and India to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed for the attack on India's financial capital.

In a swift reaction, a statement issued by US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert and distributed by the US embassy in Delhi on Friday said, "The United States is deeply concerned that Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) leader Hafiz Saeed has been released from house arrest in Pakistan".

The US and the United Nations classify Saeed's JuD as a terrorist group and it is alleged to be a front organization for LeT, whose attack on Mumbai led to the death of 166 Indians and foreigners.

"The Pakistani government should make sure that he is arrested and charged for his crimes", read the statement.

Reminding Islamabad that the USA had specially designated Saeed as a "global terrorist" way back in May 2008, Nauert also pointed out that the LeT chief was separately designated by the United Nations in December the same year following the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans. Not just the USA, but the United Nations had also individually designated Saeed under the UNSCR 1267 in December 2008. "Since 2012, the United States has offered a USA $10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice", it said. I want Kashmir's freedom from India and this is my crime.

Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir "is and will remain an integral part" of India, it said that such repeated utterances by terrorists have been given an appropriate response on the ground every time by the law enforcement agencies and the people of the state.

Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan
Pakistan frees Hafiz Saeed, alleged mastermind of Mumbai attacks

Describing the release of Hafiz Saeed as a step in the wrong direction, the U.S. today said Pakistan now has an opportunity to "demonstrate its seriousness" in the fight against terrorism by "arresting and charging" the 26/11 mastermind for his crimes.

According to him, it was under US' pressure that the Pakistani government obliged to place him under detention. It added that it also was counter to Pakistan's claim that it did not provide sanctuary to militants.

"I was detained for 10 months only to stop my voice for Kashmir", he said. An important aspect that provided Pakistan with a leverage to release Saeed was the US's National Defence Authorization Act 2018.

"I am very happy that none of the allegations against me proved three judges of the LHC ordered my release.India had levelled baseless allegations against me".

In an interview with the BBC, Saeed said the court's decision was proof of his innocence with regard to the Mumbai attacks. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that it is evident that Pakistan has not "changed" its policy of shielding and supporting the non-state actors. "Pakistan's lack of seriousness in bringing perpetrators of terror to justice is evident".

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