US experts outraged by release of Hafiz Saeed

23 November 2017

Top American counter-terrorism and South Asian experts have expressed outrage over the release of alleged 26 / 11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, who is designated a terrorist by the US and the United Nations.

''Nine years after 26 / 11, its mastermind still eludes justice. It is time to rescind Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally,'' Bruce Riedel, a top US expert on security, South Asia, and counter-terrorism, told PTI.

''In a word, the release is an outrage,'' Alyssa Ayres, a former State Department official currently with the Council on Foreign Relations, told PTI after Lahore High Court ordered that Saeed be set free.

''Before long we will read news reports of Hafiz Saeed leading more rallies with thousands of people,'' she said.

Saeed is a UN-sanctioned individual terrorist who leads a sanctioned terrorist organisation, Ayres said, alleging that Pakistan does not see fit to follow through on its obligations to uphold UN Security Council (UNSC) terrorist designations.

''Pakistan cannot credibly claim to be fighting terrorism while failing its most basic security obligation to UNSC designations,'' she said.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's former Ambassador to the US, blamed mixed messages from the Trump administration in the last few weeks for Pakistan's action.

US officials were trying to signal to Pakistan that if it takes action against Haqqani network, that could be seen as a positive move and ''may thwart'' tougher actions against Islamabad, as promised by President Donald Trump in his new South Asia policy, he said.

''In the process they (the US) may have inadvertently made the Pakistanis think that the US only wants action against the Haqqani network and not against groups like LeT that are acting against India,'' he said.

''My fear is that mixed signals will lead to a situation in which Pakistan fails to take decisive action against Afghan-oriented and India oriented terrorist groups,'' Haqqani told PTI in response to a question.

(See: After Hafiz's release from house arrest, US reiterates global terrorist tag)

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