Islamabad, April 5:Â Pakistan cannot take action against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed in the absence of solid evidence, the foreign ministry said Thursday.
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.
Saeed is the founder of the LeT that was blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said it is “strange” that the US has offered a bounty of millions of dollars for evidence and information against Saeed and Makki.
“We have clearly stated our position that there is no concrete evidence against Saeed,” the spokesman said at a press briefing, Xinhua reported.
“Pakistan would prefer to have concrete evidence to initiate a legal process but in the absence of that, we cannot do anything,” the spokesman said.
Pakistan Wednesday sought “concrete evidence” against the two men from the US.
Basit said that even the US did not possess any evidence linking Saeed to terrorism.
He did not agree with a question that the US bounty was aimed at influencing Pakistan’s ongoing parliamentary review of its relationship with the US and NATO.
Pakistan called for the review after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in air strikes by NATO fighter jets in November 2011.
A joint session of parliament is debating new terms of engagement with the US and the process is likely to be completed this month.
Replying to a question, Basit said he was not aware if there was a provision for offering a bounty under international law.
“A national government can take any step that is not in violation of the international law. I am not sure whether a bounty is covered under international law,” he added.
Basit refused to state whether Saeed had figured in discussions Wednesday between Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, saying that the two leaders had discussed “all issues”.
Issues such as the bounty for Saeed “have to be addressed through a legal procedure” and it was not “desirable to get into public discussion” on such matters, the spokesman said.
The spokesman also shot down the impression that the US and Pakistan could reach some sort of understanding on Saeed on the lines of the agreement on drone strikes that was finalised under the previous military regime.
“When we say that we do not have any concrete evidence to proceed legally against any individual, I do not see any discrepancy. The government of Pakistan cannot proceed against any individual without undeniable evidence. I see no discrepancy or dichotomy in our stated position and what we have actually been saying to the US,” Basit said.
“Obviously, Pakistan would not come under any pressure because ours is a principled and legal position,” the spokesman said. He said Pakistan believed the US had respect for Pakistan’s judicial system and both countries should be mindful of each other’s limitations.
- NRI Helpline
- Film Festival