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'US bounty on Saeed may enlarge radical Islamists' role in shaping Pak foreign policy'

Lahore, Sat, 07 Apr 2012 ANI

Lahore, Apr 7(ANI): The US announcement of a 10 million dollar bounty on Jamaat-ud- Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed's head has inadvertently expanded radical Islamists' role in shaping foreign policy by further galvanizing public sentiment against NATO, according to an analyst.

"The extremist organizations . are growing their influence, and there is no doubt about that. Their narrative has proven to be successful, which is now a popular narrative, as anti-Americanism is on the rise in the country. And now they are successfully nudging the mainstream parties to follow their terms," The Washington Post quoted an expert on militancy, Muhammad Amir Rana, as saying.

The assessments come in the wake of Saeed daring authorities to put him on trial.

"I am ready to face any court in Pakistan and any international court where the United States wants to go," Saeed said at his sermon at the mosque that serves as headquarters for his banned religious party, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (Party of Truth).

Saeed also urged followers to oppose Pakistan's support for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

His statement came four days after the US State Department announced a 10 million dollar reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction on charges of masterminding terrorist attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

He had earlier mocked a 10 million dollar bounty, saying that everyone in Pakistan knows where he is. "America can contact me whenever it wants".

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had also described the bounty as an "unfortunate" development that would damage efforts to normalize U.S.-Pakistani relations.

Pakistan, which perceives the bounty as another assault on its sovereignty by the US and reflecting a clear U.S. tilt toward India, has called for evidence to nail Saeed. (ANI)

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