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Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Pak court frees alleged 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed

Lahore High Court on Tuesday ordered the release of Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief and alleged mastermind of Mumbai terror attack Hafiz Mohammad Saeed.

A Pakistani court on Tuesday freed outlawed Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and his close aide Col (retired) Nazir Ahmed nearly six months after they were detained following the Mumbai terror attacks. A three-member bench of the Lahore High Court freed Saeed and Ahmed after hearing arguments by the JuD chief’s counsel A K Dogar,who claimed the detention of the two men violated Pakistan’s constitution and laws. The three-judge bench,hearing the case,said it will give a detailed order later.

Dogar,who addressed the bench for about 45 minutes,said the UN Security Council had only sought a freeze on the JuD’s assets and a travel ban on its leaders and the world body had not demanded the arrest of JuD leaders. He claimed it was not binding under Pakistani laws to implement UN Security Council resolutions.

Saeed was put under house arrest on December 11 last year after the UN Security Council banned the Jamaat,declaring it a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba,which is blamed by India for November 26 Mumbai terror attacks that killed over 160 people. Saeed was not present in the court on Tuesday.

The Deputy Attorney General of the federal government and the Advocate General of Punjab province rebutted Dogar’s arguments. The Advocate General said it was binding on Pakistan to implement Security Council resolutions as the country was a signatory to the UN Charter.

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After hearing both sides,the bench issued a brief order for the release of Saeed and Ahmed. A detailed order is expected to be issued by the High Court later. JuD activists who gathered at the court began shouting slogans in support of Saeed on hearing the bench’s verdict. A JuD spokesman hailed the court’s verdict and said the organisation will continue its relief activities. The court’s order was a “certificate” that the JuD was not involved in terrorism and the government had been unable to prove Saeed’s involvement in such activities,the spokesman said.

Dogar,who shouted slogans like “Allah-o-Akbar (God is great)” along with Saeed’s supporters after emerging from the court,said the JuD chief had been detained on December 11 last year without any valid grounds or reasons. Saeed’s house arrest was subsequently extended for “some vague” reasons,he said. He questioned why the Pakistan government had implemented the UN Security Council’s resolution against the JuD when India had not acted on 26 resolutions on the Kashmir issue.

During an earlier hearing of Saeed’s petition challenging his detention,Pakistan’s Attorney General Latif Khosa had told the court that the government had evidence that showed the JuD’s “prima facie links” with Al Qaida. This was the first time that Pakistan admitted that JuD has links with Al Qaida. Saeed and Ahmed had challenged their detention through a petition in the High Court.

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Saeed and several other JuD leaders were placed under house arrest in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks but most of them were subsequently freed. A judicial review board of the Lahore High Court had recently extended the detention of Saeed,also the founder of the Lashker-e-Taiba,and Ahmed by two months till July 8. Five LeT activists,including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah,are currently being tried by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi for alleged involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

In a brief order,the three-member bench of the Lahore High Court said on Tuesday that “the court accepts the petition of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Col (retd) Nazir Ahmed against their detention,which is illegal. The court orders their immediate release.”

Before the order was issued,JuD chief’s counsel Dogar,while arguing the case,claimed that it was not binding under the Pakistani laws to implement resolutions of the UN Security Council which has banned the outfit. The Deputy Attorney General of the federal government and the Advocate General of Punjab province rebutted Dogar’s arguments.

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The Advocate General said it was binding on Pakistan to implement Security Council resolutions as the country was a signatory to the UN Charter. After hearing both sides,the bench issued the brief order for the release of Saeed and Ahmed. A detailed order is expected to be issued later. JuD activists,who gathered at the court,began shouting slogans in support of Saeed on hearing the bench’s verdict. A JuD spokesman hailed the court’s verdict and said the organisation will continue its relief activities.

The court’s order was a “certificate” that JuD was not involved in terrorism and government had been unable to prove Saeed’s involvement in such activities,the spokesman said. Experts said the government can appeal the High Court’s order in the Supreme Court.

After the court verdict,an official of the Prison Department said that “we will withdraw our personnel (from JuD chief’s house in Johar Town of Lahore) after receiving the order for Saeed’s release.” Saeed’s house was declared a sub-jail during his detention. “We will provide security to Saeed if we are asked by our high-ups,” SSP (Operations) Shafiq Ahmed said.

Dogar,who shouted slogans like ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ (God is great) along with Saeed’s supporters after emerging from the court,said the JuD chief had been detained on December 11 last year without any valid grounds or reasons. Saeed’s house arrest was subsequently extended for “some vague” reasons,he claimed. He questioned why the Pakistan government had implemented the UN Security Council’s resolution against the JuD when India had not acted on resolutions on the Kashmir issue. During an earlier hearing of Saeed’s petition,Pakistan had for the first time admitted that JuD had links with al-Qaeda.

First published on: 02-06-2009 at 03:37:38 pm
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