Hafiz Saeed (R), the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, talks to media representatives as Maulana Samiul Haq (L), chief of the Defence Council of Pakistan, looks on during a news conference in Rawalpindi on April 4, 2012.—AFP Photo

RAWALPINDI: Pakistani right-wing religious groups on Wednesday called for nationwide protests to denounce a US bounty on the man who founded the group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

“On Friday there would be countrywide protest,” said Maulana Samiul Haq, chief of the Defence Council of Pakistan and dubbed ‘father of the Taliban’.

The United States on Monday slapped a $10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the banned organisation accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks four years ago.

Saeed joined Haq on stage at a press conference in a hotel in Rawalpindi, goading the Americans to haul him before the courts.

“If the United States wants to contact me, I am present, they can contact me. I am also ready to face any American court, or wherever there is proof against me,” Saeed told reporters.

Saeed and the Defence Council of Pakistan have spent recent months whipping up demonstrations across the country calling on the government not to reopen Nato supply lines to Afghanistan, which have been closed since November.

The money offered for information leading to Saeed’s arrest and conviction is eclipsed only by al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who commands a bounty of $25 million and who some analysts also suspect is hiding in Pakistan.

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