WASHINGTON: The main purpose of offering a $10 million award for Hafiz Saeed is to collect information that could withstand judicial scrutiny and make Pakistanis arrest him, the US State Department said on Wednesday.
The State Department announced cash awards for Hafiz Saeed and another key Lashkar-e-Taiba leader on Tuesday, hoping to bring the two to justice for their alleged role in the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
But at a briefing at the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner clarified that the offer was not for information about Hafiz Saeed’s whereabouts.
“The $10 million is for information that is not about his location, but information that leads to an arrest or conviction. And this is information that could withstand judicial scrutiny,” Mr Toner said.
“So I think what’s important here is we’re not seeking this guy’s location. We all know where he is. Every journalist in Pakistan and in the region knows how to find him. But we’re looking for information that can be usable to convict him in the court of law,” he added. Commenting on the US official’s statement, a journalist said that the Indians already had the information the US was seeking.
“Well, the Indians do. And I’d refer you to the Indians and the Pakistanis to talk about their counter-terrorism cooperation,” Mr Toner said.
The journalist asked why US taxpayers should pay for this when the Indians had offered no such reward for Hafiz Saeed’s arrest.
Mr Toner said the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Programme was not a joint venture, “it’s something that we do on behalf of the United States”.
The journalist observed that Hafiz Saeed had already been indicted and said he did not understand why the US was offering a reward for him.
“We’re trying to, you know, get information that can be used to put this gentleman behind bars,” Mr Toner responded.