US tightens screws on Pakistan with $10 million bounty
Yesterday the US announced a $10 million bounty for Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the leader of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba who lives openly in Pakistan.
• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.Skip to next paragraph
China sends warplanes into East China Sea airzone
American B-52s flout China's newly declared airspace
Syria peace talks a harder sell than Iran negotiations (+video)
Thai protesters occupy ministries in disobedience campaign (+video)
London captivity shows trafficking is pervasive
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The US has offered a $10 million bounty for the Pakistani militant accused of plotting the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, which killed 166 people, including several US citizens. The move was welcomed in India, but could anger rival Pakistan, which has been considering changes to its fraught relationship with the US.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed lives openly in Pakistan, occasionally giving speeches and appearing on talk shows, and founded the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the 1980s. The US considers it a terrorist group and Pakistan officially banned LeT in 2002 under US pressure, but the group still operates relatively freely in Pakistan, Associated Press reports.
India, which has struggled to contain and punish terror attacks on its soil, welcomed the news of the US bounty and held it up as proof that Pakistan harbors terrorists, the Indian Express reports.
“I think it has become clear before the world and everybody recognises that a terror mastermind, who was instrumental in terror attacks, is being sheltered and harboured there (Pakistan),” Home Secretary RK Singh said. “We welcome it. It is a very good step. It is absolutely appropriate and necessary. I hope this move will add pressure on Pakistan to act."
The New York Times reports that Saeed lives openly on the outskirts of Lahore and previous attempts to prosecute him have failed, as did efforts to put him under house arrest. “Hafiz Saeed and his aides are not fugitives. They are not living a secret life. They are living in Pakistan as free members of society,” said Hafiz Muhammad Masood, the central information secretary with the social welfare arm of LeT, Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
The bounty on Saeed could further upset an already endangered counterterrorism partnership between the US and Pakistan. After an accidental US strike on Pakistani troops in November, Pakistan closed its Afghanistan border crossings to US supplies bound for NATO troops there. It also blocked access to an air base the US formerly used to launch drone strikes.