WASHINGTON: Asserting that the $10 million bounty for the conviction of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed was not related to US-Pakistan relations, Washington hoped the announcement will not impact on President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India on Sunday that it saw as a "very constructive" move.
"What we're looking for is evidence that could be used to prosecute him in a court of law, in Pakistan or elsewhere," State Department Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Thursday. "And you know, the $10 million is that sweetener, if you will, to encourage people to come forward."
Reiterating that the US award for the mastermind of November 2008 Mumbai attacks "is very real," he said: "If anybody knows or can produce evidence that ties him to the Mumbai bombings and other terrorist acts that they step forward."
Asked whether the announcement ahead of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India would have an adverse effect on India-Pakistan relations, Toner said the US Rewards for Justice Programme was a separate process taking place in our diplomatic security channels.
"So there is no relation here," he said. "We certainly don't want it to impact on his visit to India. We think his visit to India actually is very constructive, and we're all for it."
However, US was playing "no role" he said in the talks. But "to us, it's a win-win situation when Pakistan and India are engaging in dialogue, are talking to each other and are building better cooperation."
Asked if the US was trying to create a split in LeT by asking someone to come forward, Toner listing a string of terrorist attacks said: "They are obviously an active terrorist organization" But "We're not playing some sort of strategic game here; we're just trying to prosecute this individual."
The United States was also "very close contact with the Indian government on this."
Denying that the move was aimed to pressure Pakistan to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, he said: "There's no connection here whatsoever. We're trying to give the Pakistani authorities the information, the evidence that they can use to prosecute this individual.