Under pressure from US, Pakistan puts Hafiz Saeed under house arrest

Hafiz Saeed was the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed

Amid pressure on Pakistan from the United States, Mumbai attack mastermind and Jammat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed was on Monday night put under house arrest in Punjab Province along with four others. The action comes three days after Punjab’s Ministry of Interior included Saeed and four others — Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Niaz — in the Watch List as per UNSC 1267 Sanctions ordering their preventive detention.

There has been rising pressure on Pakistan from the Donald Trump administration to act against JuD and Saeed to avoid sanctions. However, a senior Pakistani defence ministry official said that Islamabad had not heard anything from the new Trump administration but had been feeling US pressure on the issue.

“Trump is taking hard decisions against Muslim countries, there is open talk of actions against Pakistan also. So yes, this was a consideration,” said the official.

Earlier during the day, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had said the PML-N government was taking steps to “fulfil our obligations” with regard to JuD.

It is not the first time that he has been put under house arrest. In June 2009, Saeed was under house arrest after the Mumbai attack but was released after six months.

JuD is responsible for numerous terror attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks where 166 people were killed. The attack was masterminded by Saeed. In June 2014, JuD was declared a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States. Saeed carries a $10 million bounty announced by the US for his role in terror activities.

India had blamed Pakistan of sponsoring the attack through Lashkar-e-Toiba, which Saeed founded in the 1990s. But Pakistan has been denying any state involvement and Saeed has maintained that he was not responsible for the attacks.