Connect to share and comment

Hafiz Saeed an 'internal issue,' says Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said militant Hafiz Saeed was an "internal issue."

Hafiz saeed internal issue gilaniEnlarge
Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, gestures as he leaves after a news conference in Rawalpindi on April 4, 2012. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Saeed was an "internal issue," on April 5, 2012, after the US announced a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Thursday Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba, was an "internal issue" for Pakistan to handle, according to Indian newspaper The Hindustan Times.

Gilani said that any evidence against Saeed should be provided to Pakistan so that the courts could take action against him. He made the remarks during a joint session of the National Assembly and Senate in Pakistan. They concern the $10 million reward offered by the US for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed.

More on GlobalPost: Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of Lashkar-e-Taiba dares US to kill him like Osama bin Laden

After Saeed mocked the bounty at a public press conference on Wednesday, saying, "I am not hiding in caves and mountains, I am here in Rawalpindi," the US State Department clarified the purpose of the reward.

Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, pointed out that the reward was for evidence which could be used to secure a conviction against Saeed, according to The Telegraph. "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 a court of law," Toner said.

Toner said, "There is information, there is intelligence that is not necessarily usable in a court of law," according to The Telegraph.

More on GlobalPost: Hafiz Saeed: US offers $10 million bounty for Pakistan militant

Saeed has been openly speaking at rallies against drone strikes and the US involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to the BBC, just last week he spoke at a rally denouncing the possible reopening of NATO's supply routes through Pakistan.

Saeed has been arrested at least twice in the past, but no criminal charges were brought against him by the Pakistani government. Though the LeT and its welfare wing, the Jamaat-ud-Dawwa, have been designated as terrorist organizations by the US and officially banned by the Pakistani government, they continue to operate with relative freedom in Pakistan.

Gilani said the reward was an example of "negative messages" which could "increase the trust deficit" between Pakistan and the US, according to The Hindustan Times. The issue came up as President Asif Ali Zardari was scheduled to travel to India.

More on GlobalPost: Economic growth pulls Rwandans out of poverty

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/120405/hafiz-saeed-internal-issue-says-gilani