US-Pak relations are just like a sine wave, history tells us. In recent days the perception was that bilateral relations are normalising till Hafiz Saeed was released from house arrest.

It is worth recalling that Pakistani authorities put Hafiz Saeed under house arrest after UN declared him a terrorist in January this year. It was not hard to imagine that America would protest the decision of the three-judge panel. But the Pakistani government probably did not calculate the intensity of American reaction to Saeed’s release. It is only natural that Pakistan failed to do the right calculations. For hardly a fortnight ago, the US Congress had struck down a clause in the National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 under which Pakistan had to act against the activities of both Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

However, just after the three-member review board refused to accept government’s advice to put him under further house arrest, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the US “strongly condemns” the decision of the board. The American demand is to put him under house arrest once again and initiate legal proceedings against the recently released Saeed.

However, the case is not as simple as White House sees it. Without proper evidence and information regarding his involvement in Mumbai attacks, legal proceedings cannot be initiated against him. In this regard, not only India but also the US government has failed to provide ample material by which a case can be initiated. The review board was forced to set him free for the law directs so. As per Constitution of Pakistan, a person cannot be put under house arrest for more than eight months in a period of twenty-four months.

Nonetheless, the US pressure on Pakistan after Hafiz’s release coupled with government’s crackdown on Faizabad’s protest has put the Pakistani state in hot waters. While the US officials see the release of Saeed as a question mark on Pakistan’s commitment against terrorists and their networks, Islamabad also lacks clear directions on how to deal with Hafiz Saeed. It is a test for the PM Abbasi to steer his government against all the piled up tensions and hurdles his party is facing.

Washington’s U-turn on Hafiz Saeed’s release from its National Defence Authorisation Act 2018 is an indication of the fact that America has not reconsidered the status of Saeed. Moreover, the remarks of Sander that Pakistan’s inaction will have repercussions for bilateral relations and Pakistan’s global reputation should not be taken lightly by Pakistan.