Days ahead of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visits US, the Trump Administration on Friday expressed doubts over Pakistan's intentions in arresting terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attack, saying his previous arrests made no difference either to his activities or that of his outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed who is also a UN-designated terrorist was arrested on Wednesday -- the seventh times since December 2001, when he was nabbed in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.
"We've seen this happen in the past. And we have been looking for sustained and concrete steps, not just window dressing. Quite frankly, the previous arrest of Hafiz Muhammed Saeed hasn't made a difference and the LeT has been has been able to operate. So we're monitoring the situation. Pakistan really needs to prove that this time they are something different," a senior administration official told reporters Friday.
"I noticed that Pakistan has taken some initial steps such as pledging to seize assets of some of these terrorist groups. And, of course, they put under arrest yesterday Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. That is why we are very clear eyed and realistic when you see him arrested" as he has been arrested and released in the past. So we would look to see that Pakistan take sustained action in actually prosecuting these people," the official added.
This comes despite US President taking to Twitter to call him a 'so called mastermind' and taking the credit of the arrest.
Imran Khan, the 66-year-old cricketer-turned politician, is scheduled to meet Trump at his Oval Office on Monday, the first by a Pakistani leader in nearly four years, the last one being that of Nawaz Sharif in October 2015. He is travelling to the US at an invitation by Trump and the Administration is preparing to give him a warm welcome which includes a traditional welcome at the White House, one-no-one meeting at the Oval Office and a working luncheon in the presence of several of his Cabinet colleagues and leaders from the Pentagon.
Meanwhile, ahead of the visit, a senior administration official ruled out lifting suspension of security aid to Pakistan unless it is sees sustained, decisive and irreversible action against terrorist and militant groups. "As you know, we suspended security assistance to Pakistan in January 2018. And As of now, there's no change to that policy," the official said in response to a question.
Donald Trump has sternly and publicly called out Pakistan's hand in terror funding rather than terror fighting, on multiple occasions. Back in November, Trump engaging in a twitter brawl with Khan over Pakistan giving shelter to former Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. He proclaimed how the United States refuses to pay billions to India’s neighbour as there is nothing in return. Claiming Pakistan to be one of those countries who gave nothing in return, even cited Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan as an example.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Hafiz Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Also the United States, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
(with PTI inputs)