Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan dodged a question on 26/11 mastermind and UN-proscribed terrorist Hafiz Saeed during an event at the US Institute of Peace here on Tuesday.
"US has been asking Pakistan to do more in the context of terrorism. They particularly were asking Pakistan to do more in the context of Jaish-e-Mohammed and after the arrest of Hafiz Saeed -- is this it? Will he stay in custody this time or will he be allowed to go off again?" was the question asked by Nancy Lindborg, the President of USIP.
"First we want an independent justice system and you want me to predict what the justice system would do," was Khan's immediate reply.
"I repeat one thing again. It is in the interest of Pakistan that we don't allow any armed militias in our country. We have suffered. The country has suffered sectarian attacks. We have had the worst situation, it has affected our investment. It has destabilised us," he added.
The mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks was arrested in Pakistan last week on charges related to terror financing and sent to a week in judicial custody.
US President Donald Trump claimed that Hafiz was nabbed after a ten-year search in Pakistan, which was countered by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Committee highlighted that Hafiz had been living freely in Pakistan and was arrested in December 2001, May 2002, October 2002, August 2006 (twice), December 2008, September 2009, January 2017.
"Let's hold the (applause) until he's convicted," they tweeted.
India labelled Hafiz's latest arrest as mere "drama" and "cosmetic".
"This has not been the first time that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested or detained. This drama has taken place at least eight times since 2001," said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Thursday.
"The question is whether this time it would be more than a cosmetic exercise and whether Saeed will be tried and sentenced for his terrorist activities," he added.