US has no evidence against Saeed: Pakistan

Last Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 15:44

Islamabad: Underlining that it cannot take
action against LeT founder Hafiz Saeed in the absence of
concrete proof, Pakistan on Thursday said that even the US does not
possess any evidence linking the Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief to
terrorism.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said it was "strange"
that the US State Department had offered a bounty of millions
of dollars for evidence and information against Saeed and his
deputy, Abdul Rahman Makki.

The clarification about the bounty issued by the State
Department spokesman yesterday made it clear that "even the US
does not possess evidence against the two individuals," he
said.

"We have clearly stated our position that there is no
concrete evidence (against Saeed).

"Pakistan would prefer to have concrete evidence to
initiate a legal process but in the absence of that, we cannot
do anything," Basit said during the weekly news briefing that
was dominated by questions about the bounty for Saeed.

The US has offered a reward of 10 million dollars for
Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Toiba that was blamed for
the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and a bounty of two million dollars
for Makki.

Pakistan yesterday sought "concrete evidence" against the
two men from the US.

Basit refused to be drawn out on the purpose of the US
bounties and whether the move was aimed at influencing
Pakistan`s ongoing parliamentary review of its relationship
with the US.

The review was ordered by the government after 24
Pakistani soldiers were killed in a cross-border NATO air
strike last year.

A joint session of parliament is debating new terms of
engagement with the US.

"Obviously, Pakistan would not come under any pressure
because ours is a principled and legal position," Basit said.
Pakistan believes the US has "respect for our judicial
system" and both countries "should be mindful of each other`s
limitations", he added.

In response to a question, Basit said he was not aware if
there is a provision for offering a bounty under international
law.

"A national government can take any step that is not in
violation of the international law. I am not sure whether a
bounty is covered under international law," he added.

Basit refused to state whether Saeed had figured in
discussions yesterday between Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani
Khar and visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides,
saying only that the two leaders had discussed "all issues".

Issues such as the bounty for Saeed "have to be addressed
through a legal procedure" and it is not "desirable to get
into public discussion" on such matters, the spokesman said.

The spokesman also shot down the impression that the US
and Pakistan could reach some sort of tacit understanding on
Saeed on the lines of the agreement on drone strikes that was
finalised under the previous military regime.

"When we say that we do not have any concrete evidence to
proceed legally against any individual, I do not see any
discrepancy.

"The government of Pakistan cannot proceed against any
individual without undeniable evidence.
"I see no discrepancy or dichotomy in our stated position
and what we have actually been saying to the US," Basit said.

In a related development, the Defa-e-Pakistan Council
announced it will organise protests across Pakistan against
the US decision to offer a bounty for Saeed.

It further called on President Asif Ali Zardari to call
off his private visit to India on April 8 as the US move was
aimed at pleasing the Indian government.

Zardari is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh over lunch before going to famous Sufi shrine
of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer on Sunday.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 15:44

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