In an unusual move, Pakistan’s army on Tuesday said the detention of the Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed was a “policy decision in the national interest” as the government announced that the Jamat-ud Dawa leader’s 90-day house arrest could be extended if required. “The detention is a policy decision taken in the national interest. The relevant department may give more information in a day or two and the situation will become clearer,” Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told reporters here.
Saeed and four other JuD leaders were put under house arrest after order of detention was issued by Punjab Province’s Interior Ministry yesterday in pursuance to a directive from the Federal Interior Ministry on January 27.
His aides – Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Niaz – were detained and placed under house arrest in Chauburji near JuD’s Lahore headquarters.
“Although they belong to different districts of Punjab but the government has decided to place them under arrest in one house in Lahore,” a senior police officer told PTI.
“The government has detained Saeed and four other JuD and Falaha-i-Insanyat (FIF) leaders for 90 days with effect from January 30 but this detention may further be extended on completion of this period if required,” an interior ministry official told PTI.
“The government may take some further steps against the JuD and its sister organisations in coming days,” he said, adding that the names of several JuD and FIF activists have been placed on Exit Control List to stop them from leaving the country.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said Pakistan wants peace with India and resolution of all issues including Kashmir through talks held on the basis of self-respect and honour, but it should not be considered as weakness.
“We want the Kashmir issue to be resolve via United Nations resolutions and dialogue, but this desire for peace should not be misconstrued as a weakness,” he said.
After the Punjab Home Department declared Saeed’s Jauhar Town Lahore residence as sub-jail, the JuD chief was shifted there from its headquarters Al-Qadsia Chauburji today.
First Saeed was allowed by police to hold a press conference before he left for his home along with dozens of his supporters amid high police security.
“My detention order has come from Washington and not Islamabad. If someone thinks that after placing me under house arrest will help check freedom movement in Kashmir he is living a fool’s paradise. My arrest will give a fresh impetus to the Kashmiris’ struggle against India,” Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba who carries a USD 10 million bounty on his head, told reporters.
Saeed further said if Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks that he would get respite in Kashmir after his (Saeed) arrest he is seriously mistaken.
“We have declared 2017 a year of solidarity for Kashmiris. All programmes we planned for Feb 5 will be held across Pakistan and (Pakistan-occupied) Kashmir,” he said, and vowed to challenge his detention in the Lahore High Court.
Opposition in the Pakistan Punjab Assembly today staged a walkout to protest against Saeed’s detention.
The opposition which is led by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party said the PML-N government has taken the step on the pressure of the Trump and Modi administrations.
Demonstrations were held in different cities including Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta to protest against Saeed’s arrest.
His supporters also protested in Islamabad, denouncing the decision, according to an official of interior ministry who was monitoring the situation after Saeed’s arrest.
“Everyone knows here that the Nawaz government succumbs to the pressure of the Trump administration and took action against Saeed, JuD and FIF,” JuD leader Hafiz Abdul Majid Bhatti said while addressing a gathering in Lahore.
“We will continue protesting the government’s action against our leaders and organisations,” he vowed.
According to the Punjab Home Department notification, “Both JuD and FIF are engaged in certain activities which could be prejudicial to peace and security and in violation of Pakistan’s obligations to the UN Security Council Resolution. And accordingly both organisations have been placed in the Second Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.”
Similarly, it said Saeed is engaged in certain activities which could be “prejudicial to peace and security”.
He is placed in the Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and put under detention for a period 90 days.
The interior ministry in separate notification has also put JuD and FIF on the watch list for six months.
Earlier, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the state has taken certain actions against the JuD regarding its obligations to the UNSC resolution.
The News said that the government decided to put JuD and FIF into a watchlist and approved freezing of their assets, cancelling passports and arms licenses under the UN resolution 1267 to comply with the conditions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for maintaining Pakistan on the white list.
The government has issued instructions to all concerned departments, including the State Bank of Pakistan, commercial banks, law enforcement agencies at the federal level including Federal Bureau of Revenue, Federal Investigation Agency as well as provincial governments to implement all these orders.
Pakistan will submit its compliance report to FATF today on account of implementing money laundering laws in an effective manner, which will be a pre-requisite to maintain the country in the white list of FATF, the paper said.
In case of non-compliance, Pakistan might have slipped into grey and negative and danger zone in terms of labelling it in the negative list on account of terrorism financing.
The FATF, an inter-governmental body, was founded by the G-7 Group in 1989 to set standards for AML/CTF. It had placed Pakistan on its grey list in Feb 2012, meaning that the country was not fully compliant with standards set by the FATF for combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
There have been reports that Islamabad has immense pressure from new US administration to take action against Saeed and his organisations.
Saeed was also put under house arrest after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 but he was freed by court in 2009.