India, US to discuss action to be taken against Pak-based LeT chief Hafiz Saeed

Indian foreign secretaries are going to Washington this week to work out the agenda of the 2-plus-2 dialogue between the Indian and US foreign and defence ministers on April 18.

india Updated: Mar 11, 2018 07:30 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hafiz Saeed,Lashkar-e-Taiba,India
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the banned Islamic charity Jamat-ud-Dawa, in Islamabad, Pakistan on July 20, 2016. (Reuters File Photo)

India and the US will discuss this week further action to be taken against Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) emir Hafiz Saeed, Indian and US officials familiar with the matter said. The background is the Islamabad high court’s decision on March 9, paving the way for the registration of Saeed’s Milli Muslim League (MML) as a legitimate political party.

This will be one of the key focus areas of meetings when foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and defence secretary Sanjay Mitra engage their counterparts in Washington this week, the officials cited above said. The two secretaries are going to Washington for three days starting Tuesday to work out the agenda of the so-called 2-plus-2 dialogue between the Indian and US foreign and defence ministers on April 18. India’s ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna was in India this month to brief the two secretaries as well as the ministers on the forthcoming dialogue.

The two countries also plan to do more to tackle terror. The second meeting of the Designations Dialogue, a mechanism created last year to “discuss bilateral co-operation on terrorism-related designations” according to India’s ministry of external affairs, is also scheduled for this month. The Indian and US officials said this meeting will process new names or entities for designation as terrorists or terror groups by Washington.

Last August, Hizbul Mujahideen and its emir Syed Salahuddin were designated by the US as Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) and specially designated global terrorist respectively with accompanying sanctions. Hafiz Saeed, LeT and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (the parent radical religious body formed by Saeed), have already been proscribed by the US.

The Indian and US officials said that Washington was very concerned after Hafiz Saeed was released by a Pakistan court last winter — so much so that Islamabad was served a demarche by the Trump administration. With 6 out of 166 killed in the 26/11 Mumbai massacre being US nationals, Washington has made it amply clear that it wants Pakistan to incarcerate the LeT emir. Indian officials say that in January, the US shared with the country its concerns over Pakistan’s inability to take strong legal action against Saeed. The US has placed a bounty of $10 million on Saeed’s head.

Apart from this, the two secretaries will also discuss developments in Afghanistan, Iran and the Maldives, the island nation to which LeT has spread its tentacles. India will also inform the US that terrorist infiltration to create violence and mayhem in Jammu and Kashmir continues unabated from Pakistan with no less than 25 terrorists believed to have already infiltrated this year due to lack of snow on high mountain passes, the Indian officials said.

Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra will prepare the groundwork for deepening defence cooperation with US, including a decision on possible acquisition of hunter-killer drones from Pentagon, they added.

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 07:29 IST