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U.S. Warns On Pakistan Ties Over Release Of Militant Suspect


Pakistani head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organization Hafiz Saeed speaks to the media after his release order outside a court in Lahore on November 22.

The United States has warned Pakistan that there will be repercussions for bilateral ties unless Islamabad takes action to detain and charge a U.S.-wanted militant accused of masterminding a deadly attack in India.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on November 25 that Washington "strongly condemns" the release of Hafiz Saeed from house arrest this week.

Saeed's release “sends a deeply troubling message about Pakistan's commitment to combating international terrorism and belies Pakistani claims that it will not provide sanctuary for terrorists on its soil," Sanders said in a statement.

"If Pakistan does not take action to lawfully detain Saeed and charge him for his crimes, its inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and for Pakistan's global reputation," she added.

Saeed is allegedly the founder of a group linked to the 2008 attack that killed 166 people in the Indian city of Mumbai.

He has been designated a terrorist by the U.S. Justice Department and the United States offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

In January, Saeed was placed under house arrest in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore under antiterrorism laws.

However, authorities released him early on November 24 after a court rejected a provincial government request to renew his detention for a further 90 days.

U.S. and Indian officials have accused Saeed of helping plan the Mumbai attacks in which 10 gunmen rampaged through India's largest city, shooting up two luxury hotels, a Jewish center, and a train station during a siege that lasted several days.

New Delhi also accused Islamabad of helping organize the attacks in cooperation with Saeed -- the head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity which U.S. officials say is a front for the banned Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Taiba militant group.

Both Pakistan and the JuD have denied involvement in the Mumbai assault.

Saeed’s release came amid fraying bilateral relations between the United States and Pakistan, with Washington accusing Islamabad of providing "safe havens" for Taliban militants who stage attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies doing so.

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Islamabad of harboring "agents of chaos," and vowed to get tough with Pakistan unless it changed its behavior.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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