New Delhi(IANS): Ahead of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit, India Tuesday welcomed the US announcement of a $10 million bounty for Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed and upped the pressure on Islamabad to act against the 26/11 mastermind who has scaled up his tirade against New Delhi.
The US Monday announced an award of up to $10 million for information leading to arrest and conviction of Saeed and $2 million for Hafiz Adbul Rahman Makki, under the Rewards for Justice programme, for information on the two terrorists.
Welcoming the announcement, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Tuesday said it “reflects the commitment of India and the US to bring perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice and continuing efforts to combat terrorism”.
“It also sends a strong signal to LeT as also its members and patrons that the international community remains united in combating terrorism,” Krishna said.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram upped the pressure, saying the US move should prod Pakistan to act against Saeed. “India had shared enough informations with Pakistan on how JuD founder Hafiz Saeed masterminded the Mumbai terror attacks,” Chidambaram told reporters here.
“There is enough material to detain and interrogate him. But Pakistan is yet to take action against Saeed,” he said, adding “Pakistan is not doing its duty.”
“We hope it will put pressure on the Pakistan government to take action against him,” he said. “We continue to compile information against his activities,” said Chidambaram, adding that India has given many dossiers to Pakistan pertaining to Saeed’s anti-India activities.
Saeed, known in India for its virulent anti-India rhetoric and patronized by a section of the powerful military-dominated Pakistani establishment, has sharpened his tirade in recent months.
India has been consistently pressing Pakistan to prosecute Saeed for his key role in the 26/11 terror carnage, but Pakistan has resorted to legal niceties, saying there is no evidence against him.
Both LeT and JuD have been blacklisted by the US authorities for their involvement in terrorism. The JuD chief is also on India’s most-wanted list since the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, in which 166 people, including six Americans, were slaughtered by Pakistan-trained terrorists.
The US’ bounty for Saeed comes days before Zardari comes on a private visit to offer prayers at the revered Sufi shrine in Ajmer. This will be the first presidential visit from Pakistan to India in the last seven years. Amid improving ties, Manmohan Singh plans to host lunch for the Pakistani leader in New Delhi and hold talks to review bilateral ties.
Given strong sensitivity over the slow pace of 26/11 justice and Saeed’s anti-India activities, Manmohan Singh is likely to raise the issue during his talks with Zardari.
Chidambaram, however, treaded cautiously when asked whether Saeed will figure in talks. “I don’t know what the prime minister will discuss. He is coming on a private visit to a religious place, so this may not be the occasion,” said Chidambaram. “We will continue to raise the issue on every occasion,” he added in the same breath.
However, both sides are keen not to let the long-standing terror issue affect what is otherwise seen as a feel-good visit that seeks to reinforce positive trends in bilateral ties since India and Pakistan resumed their peace process in February last year.