LAHORE : Restraining the government from “harassing” Hafiz Saeed, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has allowed the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief to continue his “lawful welfare activities” till further orders.
LHC Justice Aminuddin Khan passed the order on Thursday on a petition filed by Saeed. Justice Khan also directed the authorities concerned to submit a report in response to Saeed’s plea on the next hearing scheduled for April 23.
President Mamnoon Hussain in February signed an ordinance amending the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 with the aim of tightening the noose around individuals and organisations banned by the UNSC.
The move was apparently aimed at declaring JuD and its charity arm, the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), as proscribed groups ahead of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meeting in Paris which decided to put Pakistan on the anti-terror financing organization’s grey list from June this year.
After promulgation of the ordinance, all properties of JuD and the FIF were confiscated in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Some 148 properties and assets the outfits were also seized in Punjab.
Later, JuD chief challenged the presidential ordinance at the Islamabad High Court. He also filed a plea against crackdown of authorities on his charities in the LHC.
On Thursday, Saeed’s counsel advocate AK Dogar argued that the government is harassing the petitioner and creating hurdles in his welfare projects. He said Saeed is a citizen of Pakistan whose life is being made difficult under pressure from world powers.
“Pakistan is a sovereign state and no one can impose their agenda for personal gains from the outside. The Constitution guarantees freedom of movement and freedom for collecting charity,” he added.
The counsel said the FIF has been playing a great role for development and prosperity of the country and has been serving with great commitment and dedication.
“It owns 369 ambulances which helped 72,000 persons reach hospitals and treated 600,000 patients only in 2017. JuD has dug out 2,000 wells for supplying water in Tharparkar, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan,” he said.
The counsel requested the court to set aside the impugned notification of the interior ministry and allow his organisations to serve the people, a request that the LHC provisionally allowed.
Earlier on Wednesday, the LHC ordered its registrar office to consolidate all petitions, expressing fear that Saeed might be arrested at the behest of the US and India.
Dogar, the counsel of Saeed, had contended that the government wanted to arrest the JuD chief merely to please the US and India. He had requested the court to restrain the federal and provincial governments from arresting the JuD chief. The court will resume hearing on April 23.
The US on Tuesday placed Hafiz Saeed’s political party Milli Muslim League (MML) on its list of foreign terrorist organisations, linking it with militants that the US and India blame for the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
The MML shot to prominence after fielding a candidate in a September 2017 by-election to fill a seat vacated by deposed Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Saeed is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is also on the US terrorist list and is banned in Pakistan over its involvement in terrorism.
Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks.