Islamabad, Nov 22: Mastermind of the November 26, 2008 Mumbai attacks, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is scheduled to be released from house detention in Pakistan on Thursday, as authorities failed to provide evidence to extend the sentence, reports claimed. Authorities arguing against the release of Saeed are of the opinion that it could invite international sanctions on Pakistan.
The provincial government of Punjab produced Saeed before the Judicial Review Board on Tuesday comprising judges of the Lahore High Court and pleaded to extend the sentence by three months. However, the court refused the plea and said Saeed will be released as per the earlier sentence.
A Punjab Home Department official said it is feared the release could invite international sanctions on the country. The official quoted by Times Now also reportedly said that the Federal Finance Ministry has “important evidence” against Saeed which would justify his detention. To this, the Review Board asked the Federal Finance Ministry to place these evidences before it.
In October, the Board extended Saeed’s detention by 30 days, but with today’s announcement, the house arrest sentence was lifted.
Saeed, leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, with alleged links with Lashkar-e-Toiba, was put on house arrest on January 31 along with Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain. The Punjab government put the four under detention for 90 days under the Anti-terrorism Act of 1997 and the Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
In October, while the review board extended Saeed’s detention, it set his four aides free.
Saeed had appealed against the detention in the Lahore High Court and hearing the matter on Wednesday, the court refused to extend the sentence.
As per the law, the government can detain a person for up to three months under various charges, but for an extension an approval from a judicial review board is required.