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Pak seeks evidence from US against Saeed

Islamabad: Pakistan today sought "concrete evidence" from the US against top Jamaat-ud-Dawah leaders Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Abdul Rehman Makki following the announcement of bounties for them, saying this was necessary to "proceed legally" in the matter.

"Pakistan would prefer to receive concrete evidence to proceed legally rather than to be engaging in a public discussion on this issue," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said in response to the US bounties on Saeed and his deputy Makki. Basit further said that "in a democratic country like Pakistan, where judiciary is independent, evidence against anyone must withstand judicial scrutiny". He did not give further details.

The US has announced a USD 10 million bounty for Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, making him one of the five most wanted terrorists. The US announced a bounty of USD 2 million for Makki, who is Saeed`s brother-in-law. The cases of Saeed and Makki are unusual as both of them are not in hiding, unlike other terrorists for whom the US State Department has offered bounties under its Rewards for Justice programme.

A defiant Saeed addressed a news conference this afternoon at a hotel in the garrison city of Rawalpindi located a short distance from the Pakistan Army?s General Headquarters and dared the US to carry out a military raid against him like the one that killed Osama bin Laden last year. Saeed said that he was not hiding even after the US offered a reward for him. He taunted the US to give him the bounty, saying he would inform American authorities about his whereabouts.

He further said he would use the money for relief works in the impoverished province of Balochistan. Following the Mumbai attacks, India provided Pakistan several dossiers that contained evidence against Saeed and other members of the LeT and JuD who were linked to the terrorist assault. Pakistan has maintained that this evidence was inadequate to prosecute Saeed. The JuD leader was detained for nearly six months after the Mumbai incident before being freed on the orders of the Lahore High Court.

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