Pakistan: Punjab govt given last chance to reply on Hafiz Saeed’s detention

Islamabad: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday gave one last chance to the Punjab government to file a reply on the detention of the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed who has been under house arrest since January.

A division bench headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali heard a petition filed by the Jamaat-ud-Dawah seeking the release of its leaders and adjourned the case till May 29 after issuing the orders to the government for a reply, Dawn newspaper reported.

During the proceedings, the government’s counsel told the court that they had presented Saeed and his aides before a review board earlier this month to request that their detention be increased beyond the initial three months, but the board has not issued an order as yet. He said it was appropriate to wait for the board s order before the court issues a verdict, the report said.

Rebutting this view, AK Dogar, the counsel for Saeed, said that the review board is an administrative forum and ranks below the Lahore High Court bench, therefore, the court should decide the matter without waiting for its decision. He added that the initial three-month detention period of Saeed and others got exhausted on April 29 and the Punjab government neither presented them before the review board for an extension nor freed them.

He further said that according to the Constitution, a review board was necessary to extend Saeed and his aides’ detention but the government never formed the board and did not even present the detainees to any other legal forum to continue their detention. Instead, it decided to extend the detention by another 90 days in April.

Dogar added that Saeed and others were being kept under detention illegally and unconstitutionally which is a “mockery of the law”. The division bench was holding proceedings on a petition of Saeed and his aides who had challenged their 90-day detention and its subsequent extension by the Punjab government on April 30 for another 90 days allegedly without fulfilling legal formalities, the report said.

On January 28, the Punjab government had placed the names of Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Ubaid of Faisalabad; Malik Zafar Iqbal and Abdul Rehman Abid of Markaz Tayyaba Muridke; and Qazi Kashif Hussain of Multan in the fourth schedule of Anti- Terrorism Act and on January 30 had placed them under detention for 90 days.

This was done on the recommendations of the interior ministry. According to the January 27 notification issuing the directives, the ministry found that JuD and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation were engaged in activities which could be damaging to peace and security and were in violation of Pakistan’s obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267. Therefore, the government placed both organisations under the Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) and on a watch list.