Lahore: A defiant Pakistan said Tuesday it would not arrest Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, named by India as the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, till adequate proof was provided of his involvement in the carnage.
"We cannot arrest him till adequate proof is provided. There is no proof," Interior Minister Rehman Malik told a private TV news channel in an interview.
The latest flip-flop comes 12 days after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said July 16 his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had informed him that "common consensus" was being evolved and that "action will have to be taken against him (Saeed)".
Two days before that, on July 14, Pakistan`s Punjab provincial government had disassociated itself from the case against Saeed, saying the federal government had not furnished "solid evidence" to warrant his continued house arrest.
The Punjab government`s move came as a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was considering two identical petitions filed by the federal and provincial governments against Saeed`s June 2 release by the Lahore High Court.
Punjab Advocate General Raza Farooq told the court that the provincial government had put Saeed under house arrest on the directive of the federal government.
Saeed is the founder of the Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group that New Delhi accuses of also staging the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament. The LeT had morphed into the JuD after it was banned in the aftermath of the attack.
Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone gunman captured alive during the Mumbai mayhem, has admitted to being a Pakistani national and to being trained by the LeT for the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai attacks that claimed the lives of over 170 people, including 26 foreigners.
Pakistan has charged five men, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi with involvement in the Mumbai mayhem.
Earlier this month, Pakistan had handed over a dossier to India admitting its nationals were involved in the attacks. The dossier came days before the July 16 Gilani-Manmohan Singh meeting on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Shaikh.
Speaking to reporters after the two-hour-long meeting, Manmohan Singh said he had raised the matter of Pakistan taking action against Saeed.
"The Pakistan Prime Minister told me that there is common consensus being evolved that action will have to be taken against him. The Punjab government, which is of the opposition party, is being persuaded," he said.
Saeed was detained last December after the United Nations declared the JuD a terrorist group in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
He was originally detained for one month and this had been successively extended. On May 5, his detention was extended by 60 days.
After the UN action, the authorities arrested some 40 JuD members and closed dozens of its offices and relief units in the country.