Lahore: Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has slapped a Rs 100-million defamation notice on Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for calling him the "darling of the United States".
Asif, while speaking at the Asia Society forum in New York on Tuesday, acknowledged that Saeed, the Haqqanis and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are "liabilities" for the country but it does not have the required "assets" to get rid of them.
The minister had also said that the US, which was putting pressure on Pakistan to tackle terrorist groups operating from its soil, once used to treat them as "darlings" just 20 to 30 years ago.
Saeed's counsel A K Dogar sent the notice to the foreign minister on behalf of his client who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), a front for the LeT militant group that carried out the deadly 2008 Mumbai attack.
"Saeed is respected as a deeply religious and devout Muslim. Saeed has never been near the White House, not to speak of wined and dined," Dogar said in the notice.
"It is shocking to know that the foreign minister of my country is accusing Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of taking wine. This is abusive language and can never be used for my client.
"He is a patriotic Islam-loving Muslim following the dictates of the Prophet. This is a defamatory statement punishable under Section 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to five years imprisonment and with a fine," he said.
The counsel termed it as an absolute lie and falsehood that Saeed is one of those persons who had been the "darlings of Americans" and had been dining and wining in the White House.
Whoever by words either spoken or intended to be read makes any imputation concerning any person so as to harm his reputation is said to defame that person, he said.
"The imputation of winning is a false statement which has injured the reputation of my client and lowered him in the estimation of others. This is slander and actionable libel. I am constrained to issue this 14 days' notice of the intention of my client to bring an action against you.
"My client intends to file a suit for damages to the tune of Rs 100 million for injuring his reputation not only in Pakistan but all over the world," Dogar said.
"Apart from the civil remedy, my client has a right to file a criminal complaint against you under Section 500 of the PPC.
It goes without saying that you will be responsible for the entire cost of litigation," the counsel added.
Asif had said that it was very easy to say Pakistan is floating the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and LeT.
They are liabilities, he had said.
US President Donald Trump had last month criticised Pakistan for its support to terror groups, saying it receives billions in US aid but continues to harbour militants.
Saeed and his four aides were placed under house arrest in Lahore on January 30 under the anti-terrorism act.
The JuD has been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States in June 2014.
Saeed carries a USD 10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.