For the first time in years, Mumbai attack mastermind and Jammat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed was not allowed by the government on Wednesday to lead Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at his favourite venue Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore, an official said.
Instead, Saeed, chief of UN-designated terrorist organisation JuD, offered prayers at a local mosque adjacent to his Jauhar Town residence.
“JuD chief Saeed wanted to lead the Eid prayers at the Qaddafi Stadium but he was conveyed by an official of the Punjab government a day before (Tuesday) that he could not do so. In case he goes ahead with his plan (to lead the Eid prayers) the government may arrest him, the official privy to the development told PTI.
He said Saeed having no other option “followed the government direction” and dropped the idea of leading the prayers at the Qaddafi Stadium.
Saeed had been leading the prayers on both Eid-ul Fitr and Eid-ul Azha at the Qaddafi Stadium for last many years without any hindrance. Rather the government used to provide him foolproof security.
In the past, Saeed not only led the prayers but also propagated his views especially on Kashmir before a large gathering of people assembled on such religious festivals.
Saeed, who was banned on December 10, 2008 by the UN Security Council after the horrific Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed, is keeping a low profile since the Imran Khan government launched a crackdown on proscribed organisations some three months ago to fulfil its obligations regarding international terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
In February, Paris-based international terror financing watchdog FATF decided to continue the ‘Grey’ listing of Pakistan for its failure to stop funding of terrorist groups such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the JuD.
In March, Saeed was barred by the government from delivering weekly Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid Qadsia, the JuD headquarters in Lahore.
Saeed was never stopped from delivering Friday sermons even during the years when Masjid Qadsia’s control was under the Punjab government.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attacks. It had been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings him to justice.