ISLAMABAD  – Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, a leader who has a 6 million pounds American bounty on his head, has been helping Pakistan de-radicalise militants under efforts to stabilise the strategic US ally, a top Pakistani counter-terrorism official said on Friday.Hafiz Saeed  met government officials from the Punjab province and pledged his support for the drive, the official said. “Hafiz Saeed has agreed with the Punjab government programme of de-radicalisation and rehabilitation of former jihadis and extended full cooperation,” the counter-terrorism official told Reuters. The counter-terrorism official said that Saeed had not been paid for his de-radicalisation activities.US officials in Washington said the decision to offer the reward under the State Department’s longstanding ‘Rewards for Justice’ programme came after months of discussions among US agencies involved in counter-terrorism.A senior Punjab Police official confirmed that Saeed and his supporters were helping efforts to transform militants into law-abiding citizens. “Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) leaders were consulted, and they approved the de-radicalisation plan. They assured us of their intellectual input and resource materials. They also offered teachers,” he told Reuters, referring to the charity Saeed heads. Yahya Mujahid, the JuD spokesman, said the group had not participated in the de-radicalisation programme.Hafiz Khalid Waleed, another senior JuD member, declined to comment on whether the leader had been directly assisting the government in de-radicalisation. But he said Saeed and his followers were promoting non-violence. “Hafiz Saeed was one of the first religious leaders to denounce militancy and suicide bombings,” said Waleed. “Our schools and madrassas (religious seminaries) are urging peace.” Under the programme, former militants are urged to develop technical skills that could give them long-lasting employment to keep them from taking up arms against the state again.Experts also try to reverse what Pakistani officials call brainwashing by militants who preach holy war against the West. To help the de-radicalisation programme, Saeed identifies former militants who may still be recruited for jihad because they are jobless and idle and he helps steer them toward the programme, said the counter-terrorism official. Waleed mocked the decision to place a bounty on Saeed. “President Barack Obama’s election symbol was a donkey and his government is acting like one. They have no evidence against Hafiz Saeed and are scrambling to make up stories,” he told Reuters.The counter-terrorism official, who engineered the project, said 200 former militants had participated this year in Punjab including some from Saeed’s group.Another 100 will be completing the programme by June.Saeed enjoys armed protection from the state because of his “new thinking”, sources said.“Al Qaeda or factions from the Taliban may want to kill him,” said one of the sources, adding India may want to target him as well.Asked if the reward would anger Saeed’s followers and undermine de-radicalisation efforts, he said: “There is resentment but I hope the programme won’t be affected.”