Islamabad: Pakistan's Defence Minister Khwaja Asif earned the wrath of political and religious leaders of his own country when he said on Sunday that Hafiz Saeed's house arrest was in the Asian country's "larger interest" as the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks can pose a "serious threat".
As per The News International, Asif is now being called "India's mouthpiece" by a number of the Pakistani leaders who believe Saeed "is a patriotic leader".
On Sunday, Asif told the audience at the Munich Security Conference: “Saeed can pose a serious threat to the society...was arrested in the larger interest of the country".
Reacting to the statement, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Mahmoodur Rasheed said that the Asif's statement "makes him sound like he's India's defence minister, not Pakistan's”.
The Opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly added that Pakistan has adopted "a defensive policy as far as India and the US were concerned.”
Jamaat-e-Islami leader Liaquat Baloch said Asif has “lost control over his tongue, no matter he was inside the country or abroad”.
Defence of Pakistan Council chairman Maulana Samiul Haq said Asif "should have "raised the issue of atrocities being committed by the Indian Army in Kashmir."
Meanwhile, Jamaat-ud-Dawa announced holding protest rallies across the country today against Asif’s statement in Germany.
Saeed was placed under house arrest under the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) on January 30 in Lahore, provoking an uproar from his party and allies. Saeed's inclusion in the list shows he is linked with militancy in some way. Saeed was earlier this month put on the Exit Control List, barring him from leaving the country.
Saeed was also put under house arrest after the Mumbai attacks in November 2008, but he was freed by a court in 2009.
He carries a reward of USD 10 million announced by the US for his role in terror activities.
During a panel discussion on countering extremism and terrorism, Asif had said: "Terrorism is not synonymous to any religion. Terrorists aren't Christians or Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus. They are terrorists, they are criminals."