Washington: The United States administration on Thursday clarified that its announcement of USD 10 million bounty on the head of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed was aimed at his conviction in a court of law.
The clarification from the US administration came a day after the Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief and 26/11 mastermind Saeed openly goaded Washington for its announcement of bounty on him with a press conference in Pakistan, reports claimed on Thursday.
Saeed, whose organisation (LeT) is accused of masterminding the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai that led to the killing of 166 people, including some Israelis and Americans, also challenged the United States to contact him.
Clarifying the US stand on the issue, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters, “He`s free to do that, unfortunately, up to this moment. But we hope to put him behind bars."
Toner further sought to clarify that the US reward for Saeed was not meant for Saeed’s capture as it is no longer a secret that he lives freely in Pakistan, but for information that would allow his prosecution in a court in the United States or elsewhere.
"We all know where he is -- you know, every journalist in Pakistan and in the region knows how to find him -- but we`re looking for information that can be usable to convict him in a court of law," Toner was quoted as saying.
Toner also denied that Washington was making fresh demands to Pakistan, which is said to be reviewing and resetting bilateral relations with Washington after months of crisis between the two nations.
"It`s not to put pressure on any one government. But we wanted to be able to provide Pakistan with the tools that they need to prosecute this individual," Toner said.
In his press conference, which took place in a hotel near the Pakistani Army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi, Saeed said, “If the United States wants to contact me, I am present, they can contact me?”
"I am also ready to face any American court, or wherever there is proof against me," he told reporters.
Relations between the two countries nosedived last year when the United States discovered and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, home to Pakistan`s elite military academy.
With Agency Input