India confirms seeking extradition of Hafiz Saeed; No treaty, replies Pak | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India confirms seeking extradition of Hafiz Saeed; No treaty, replies Pak

Dec 29, 2023 09:20 PM IST

Hafiz Saeed has been convicted in at least five cases of terror financing but has never been charged by Pakistani authorities for any terror attack in India

NEW DELHI: India said on Friday it has made a fresh request to Pakistan to extradite Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and allegedly involved in other acts of terrorism, so that he can face trial in the country.

FILE PHOTO: Hafiz Saeed is showered with flower petals as he walks to court before a Pakistani court ordered his release from house arrest in Lahore on November 22, 2017 (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: Hafiz Saeed is showered with flower petals as he walks to court before a Pakistani court ordered his release from house arrest in Lahore on November 22, 2017 (REUTERS)

The request was made “some weeks ago” through the Indian high commission in Islamabad even though India and Pakistan do not have an extradition treaty, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular media briefing.

The Indian side has taken note of reports that Saeed’s son Talha Saeed plans to contest next year’s general election in Pakistan, and such “mainstreaming” of radical terrorist groups is nothing new as it has been part of Islamabad’s state policy for a long time, Bagchi said.

Pakistani media first reported this week that India has asked Pakistan to hand over Saeed.

The Lashkar founder has been convicted and sentenced in at least five cases of terror financing since 2020, though his current whereabouts are not known. He has never been charged by Pakistani authorities in connection with any terror attacks carried out by LeT in India.

Also Read | 15 years of 26/11:How LeT flourishes in Pakistan

Asked about India seeking the extradition of Saeed, Baghci replied: “As you are aware, the person in question is wanted in numerous cases in India. He is also a UN-proscribed terrorist. In this regard, we have conveyed a request, along with relevant supporting documents, to the government of Pakistan to extradite him to India to face trial in a particular case.”

He added, “We have, of course, been flagging the issue of activities that he’s been wanted for [in India].”

India continues to take up with Pakistan and other countries the activities of people who are wanted in the country for criminal or terrorist activities, and the recent request was made even though the two neighbours don’t have an extradition treaty, he said.

People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that the request for Saeed’s extradition was made following a new development in one of the cases registered against him in India. The development is not linked to the Mumbai attacks, the people said. “Some new evidence has emerged and the request was passed on to the Pakistani side,” one of the people said.

Hours later, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch confirmed India’s extradition request. “Pakistan has received a request from the Indian authorities seeking extradition of Hafiz Saeed in a so-called money laundering case. It is pertinent to note that no bilateral extradition treaty exists between Pakistan and India,” she said.

In Delhi, Bagchi, who was asked about Saeed’s son planning to contest Pakistan’s upcoming general election as a candidate of the Pakistan Markazi Muslim League (PMML), said he did not normally comment on the election process in a different country.

“However, what I would like to say is the issue of radical elements being normalised and [participating] in elections is something perhaps I should comment on. We have seen some reports in this regard,” he said.

“The mainstreaming of radical terrorist outfits in Pakistan is nothing new and has been a part of their state policy for a long time. Such developments have serious implications for the security of our region. On our part, we will, of course, continue to monitor all developments that have an implication on our national security,” he added.

Saeed has been given prison terms ranging from fifteen-and-a-half years to 31 years following his conviction in the cases of terror financing. He was detained in these cases only because of pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Western powers.

In 2012, the US offered a bounty of $10 million for Saeed. The LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), a front for the terror group, have been banned by the US and the UN.

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