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Apr 30, 2012 at 10:02pm IST

US takes a U-turn on Hafiz Saeed bounty

New Delhi: The United States has backtracked on the bounty announced on Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and 26/11 suspect Hafiz Saeed. The American Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter blamed the Pakistani media instead for misreporting the issue.

Cameron Munter said that the reward was for any UN declared terrorist and it could apply to any country. He was quoted by the local media in Lahore as saying, "Though Hafiz Saeed is a suspected accused of the Mumbai terror attacks, the US government didn't place any bounty/head money for him."

Reacting on the US's U-turn, Home Minister P Chidambaram said, "I go by the statement given by the US government and not by the US envoy to Pakistan, for us, the US government's statement is more important."

In fact the US bounty announcement on April 3 was crystal clear. US State Department spokeperson Mark Toner had said, "We certainly want to see him brought to justice. As everyone and their mother know at this point, he's hiding in plain sight in Pakistan, so we're not seeking his whereabouts. We certainly know that. We are seeking information that can be used to prosecute him."

Indian diplomats suspect that Washington is trying a range of hard and soft options to get Pakistan to reopen the land supply routes to Afghanistan. The hard option was demonstrated on Sunday when it resumed drone strikes in Waziristan after a month long break. The soft option may have been the Hafiz Saeed announcement. It's not clear if either is working.