Washington: The United States on Friday called on Pakistan to hold Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed accountable for his involvement in planning "numerous acts of terrorism, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks".
"We continue to call for Hafiz Saeed to be held accountable for his involvement in the planning of numerous acts of terrorism, including 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 innocent people, including 6 Americans," a US State Department spokesperson told news agency ANI.
The statement came a day after Saeed was convicted and sentenced for five years in two terror financing cases. India has been cautious in response to the move, and pointed out that efficacy of Islamabad’s decision remains to be seen as it came just before the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) session from February 16 to 21.
The US spokesperson said Saeed's conviction on terror financing is a step towards curtailing the operation of a terrorist group that threatens peace and stability in South Asia. "We urge Pakistan to continue to take appropriate legal action against individuals who commit acts of terrorism, raise funds for, or advocate for terrorism," the official said.
The US has signalled a softening of stance towards Pakistan on terror which means Pakistan could well stay in the grey list and be penalised no further.
On Wednesday, Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of US for South and Central Asian Affairs had termed the conviction an "important step forward" towards holding terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba "accountable for its crimes".
"Today's conviction of Hafiz Saeed and his associate is an important step forward - both toward holding LeT accountable for its crimes and for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terrorist financing," she tweeted.
"And as @ImranKhanPTI has said, it is in the interest of #Pakistan's future that it doesn't allow non-state actors to operate from its soil," she said in another tweet.
An anti-terrorism court in Lahore, Pakistan on Wednesday sentenced Hafiz Saeed to five-and-a-half years in prison each in two terror financing cases.