US to take up Saeed issue with Pak interlocutors

Islamabad has so far refused to take action against Saeed on the basis of material provided by New Delhi.

Islamabad: The US has signalled that the issue of Lashkar-e-Toiba founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed will be taken up by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairperson Dianne Feinstein during her meetings with Pakistani interlocutors this week.

Fienstein, scheduled to arrive in Islamabad late tonight, is expected to meet Pakistan`s top civil and military leadership, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, during the visit.

US intentions to raise the issue of Saeed, for whom the Department of State offered a USD 10 million bounty last month, were conveyed to the Pakistani side during meetings held to prepare for Feinstein`s visit, diplomatic sources said.

The issue of Saeed was given as much importance as US concerns about the Haqqani network, a militant faction based in North Waziristan that is blamed for attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan, and other aspects of counter-terrorism cooperation, the sources said.

Pakistan reacted to the US offer of a bounty for Saeed under the Rewards for Justice programme by asking American authorities to provide "concrete evidence" against the Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief, saying this was necessary to proceed legally against him.

Islamabad has so far refused to take action against Saeed on the basis of material provided by New Delhi about his alleged role in masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

US and Indian officials have said the assault on the financial hub was carried out by LeT operatives who were trained, financed and controlled by Pakistan-based elements.

Saeed, born in 1950 at Sargodha in Punjab province, was placed under house arrest for less than six months after the Mumbai attacks, largely due to pressure from the world community. He was freed in 2009 on the orders of the Lahore High Court.