The Lahore High Court warned on Wednesday that 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s house arrest would be set aside if the Pakistan government did not submit evidence against him.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and his four aides – Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain – have been placed under house arrest in Lahore under the Anti-Terrorism Act since January 31.
The Lahore High Court heard a plea against Saeed’s detention on Tuesday. However, the absence of the interior secretary, who was supposed to appear along with records of the case, irked the court. “No citizen can be detained for an extended period on the basis of merely press clippings,” the court observed.
“The conduct of the government shows it has no substantial evidence against the petitioners. The detention of the petitioners will be set aside if no concrete evidence is presented before the court,” Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi said. An official of the interior ministry, through the deputy attorney general, told the court that the secretary could not attend the proceedings due to unavoidable official responsibilities in Islamabad and sought time to file a reply to the petition. Justice Naqvi regretted that an army of officers was assigned to protect one government official, but not a single officer was available to assist the court. Lamenting on repeated requests for adjournment, the judge said the law officers wanted the courts to stop working and adjourned hearing till October 13.
Saeed’s advocate A K Dogar argued the government detained the JuD leader on the basis of apprehensions and hearsay. He said under the law no presumption and assumption could give rise to any apprehension unless it was supported by evidence.
The Punjab government had earlier told the court if the JuD leaders were released, their activities would be a threat to public safety and might cause breach of public order. On September 25, the house arrest of Saeed and others was extended for another 30 days.