By Khalid Azeem ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government’s two appeals challenging the release of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the chief of the Islamic hardliner party Jamaat ud Dawa (JD), were adjourned indefinitely Monday. Saeed is the founder of the militant Islamist Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) group. India blames it for the Mumbai attacks. The appeals hearing last took place...
By Khalid Azeem
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government’s two appeals challenging the release of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the chief of the Islamic hardliner party Jamaat ud Dawa (JD), were adjourned indefinitely Monday.
Saeed is the founder of the militant Islamist Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) group. India blames it for the Mumbai attacks.
The appeals hearing last took place two weeks ago for the appeals filed by the federal and Punjab governments. Attorney General Latif Khosa told the three-member bench, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, that the records of the case were with Punjab AG Raza Farooq who resigned. He was meant to appear in court Monday.
No objections were raised from either side, following which the court adjourned the matter indefinitely. Saeed is being represented by AK Dogar.
Saeed was put under house arrest in early December. But in May, a Pakistani high court ordered his release, saying there was no evidence of his involvement. He denies any role.
According to Reuters, India says it has handed over sufficient evidence to Pakistan regarding Saeed's involvement and wants him rearrested.
AGENCIES ADD: On Saturday, India gave Pakistan a new dossier of evidence to investigate the Mumbai attacks and to prosecute Saeed.
“I think whatever we have provided, according to our assessment, I think that is evidence enough to punish them and Saeed is one of those who is the main brains behind the attack,” Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said in New Delhi on Monday.
Peace talks between the nuclear armed rivals were suspended after the Mumbai attacks, but last month they agreed to restart dialogue, without resuming the peace process.
India wants Pakistan to punish those responsible for the deaths of 166 people in Mumbai and dismantle the “infrastructure of terrorism”.
India is also waiting for Pakistan to start in earnest the trial of five militants being held at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi for their alleged role in the Mumbai plot.
Charges have still to be read against the suspects, and the next hearing has been put off until Aug. 29.
Saeed's lawyer, A.K. Dogar, said the court adjourned the hearing without fixing a new date because the government's prosecutor was not prepared for the case.
“The attorney general appeared before the court and said the previous government lawyer has resigned and he has all the records with, him so we're not in a position to argue the case,” Dogar told reporters after the hearing.
“Saeed will continue as a free man. He can move about and do whatever he likes,” he said.
Saeed quit Lashkar in the days following the militant group's attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001, but stayed as head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a charity that has been placed on both U.N. and U.S. lists of terrorist organisations.
Lashkar was founded in 1989 to fight Indian rule in Kashmir, the flashpoint for more than 60 years of rivalry between India and Pakistan.
Security analysts say the group was a favoured tool of Pakistani intelligence, though those ties appeared to weaken after India and Pakistan embarked on a peace process in 2004. SAMAA/AGENCIES
WATCH Hafiz Saeed's lawyer AK Dogar comment on the day's proceedings here: