Pakistan Fails to Prosecute Terror Suspect

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and the Pakistani-based Militant organizationLashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was let off scott-free after the Lahore High Court ordered his release in absence of adequate proof by prosecution. Both the Indian and Western officials accuse LeT of masterminding the terrorist siege of Mumbai in November 2008 which left nearly 200 people dead including many foreign nationals.

His lawyer, A. K. Dogar, said he had argued that the government had not banned Jamat-ud-Dawa and therefore it was legal to solicit donations for it. “The court accepted my contention,” he was quoted by news media as saying outside the court.

Saeed was placed under house arrest after Pakistan was pressured by global community in wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. It was the second time that Saeed was let of similar charges in wake of lack of evidence. JuD is a front organisation of the LeT, blamed by India for carrying out the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.India has named Saeed as the mastermind of the attacks. Days after the attack, it was designated as a terrorist group by the U.N. Security Council.

Pakistani authorities in some cases have turned a blind eye when militant groups have simply renamed themselves and continued operating as before. LeT was an offshoot of Jamaat-ud-Dawa wal-Irshad, which is a preaching, publishing and propaganda network set up by Hafiz Saeed for jihad in Afghanistan in 1985. LeT’s rise as a major Pakistani group operating in Kashmir is widely credited to Mr Saeed’s close links with the Pakistani military and the intelligence services. The group also had access to huge funds from Middle Eastern mosques and a countrywide network to raise donations locally. In 2002 when the LeT was about to be proscribed by the then Pervez Musharraf regime, Saeed revived the group’s parent organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa wal-Irshad, amended its name and was able to carry on the business as usual.

Lashkar-e-Taiba has enjoyed the support of the Pakistani intelligence agencies in the past and is often described in Pakistan as the military’s fifth column.

In the latest case of 2008 Mumbai attacks after being pressurized the Pakistan govt. under Pervez Mussharaf had to take action against the organization and Saeed was placed under house arrest though no charges were pressed till late. The FIRs filed later on also were not apt and this led to the charges being quashed in court. The defense attorney made a case of the JuD not being a baned organization in Pakistan which was the base of the FIRs.

When the two-judge Bench took up the two petitions on Monday morning, the first question that Justices Asif Saeed Khosa and Najamuz Zaman put to the Punjab Additional Advocate-General was whether there was any government order banning the group.

The government lawyer asked the court to give him half-an-hour to find out. He returned to say that he had been instructed by the federal government that there was no such order.

The Bench asked Mr. Dogar if he wanted to make the federal government a party in the case.

When Saeed’s lawyer told him there was no need as the federal government had already accepted there was no ban on the JuD, the Bench immediately ruled the two FIRs illegal and ordered that they should be quashed.

With the terrorist attacks on a rise within Pakistan it’s high time Pakistan takes some serious steps against terror organizations not to appease the global community but to ensure internal peace and safety of it’s citizens.

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