India has given ‘no evidence’ against Hafiz Saeed: Pakistan PM Abbasi

Hafiz Saeed, accused by India and the US of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, was freed after 10 months in house arrest by a panel of judges from the Lahore high court.
File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at his office in Islamabad on September 11, 2017.(Reuters)
File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at his office in Islamabad on September 11, 2017.(Reuters)
Updated on Nov 30, 2017 08:18 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said India has provided “no evidence” against Hafiz Saeed, days after the US warned there would be repercussions for bilateral relations if the Pakistan government does not re-arrest and prosecute the Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief.

Noting that Saeed had recently been freed from house arrest by a judicial panel because there were “no charges” against him, Abbasi told Bloomberg in an interview that Saaed should be prosecuted internationally if the charges against him could be substantiated.

“The court, a three-judge bench, has released him (Saeed) saying there are no charges against him, the country has a law you know,” said Abbasi, who became premier after PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was ousted from office by the Supreme Court over graft charges.

“Prosecute him internationally if there is substance to these charges -- these are accusations only. No evidence has been provided by India,” he said, without giving details.

Saeed, who has been accused by India and the US of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, was freed after 10 months of house arrest by a panel of judges from the Lahore high court who concluded Pakistan authorities had not provided any evidence against him.

India has repeated said it has provided adequate evidence to Pakistan against Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the attacks in Mumbai.

Saeed is considered to be close to the Pakistani military and intelligence set-up, which has for long been accused of using the LeT as a proxy to target India.

Asked if Pakistan would act against Taliban leaders who have allegedly lived for years in the southwestern city of Quetta, Abbasi said, “We will act against them if they really exist.”

Abbasi also suggested that US President Donald Trump’s troop increase and support to Afghanistan will end in failure. He urged the Afghan government and the Taliban to agree to peace talks.

“We have assured them of whatever assistance we would be able to offer, but things are quite fragmented on that side,” he said. “Pakistan has tried twice but the talks have been sabotaged.”

Abbasi’s remarks came against the backdrop of growing American pressure to act against terror groups operating from its soil, including the LeT and Haqaani Network. Gen Joseph Votel, commander of the US Central Command, and secretary of state Rex Tillerson called on Pakistan to take action against militants during recent visits to the country.

“There is no room for them to take a tough stance here, because Pakistan is the country which is fighting the war on terror,” Abbasi said. “Somebody gives us intelligence and we will act upon it. It is our war, not theirs.”

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