Supreme Court love for Jihad
May 27, 2010
by Amir Mir
LAHORE: A militant friendly Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed the federal government’s appeal, filed a year ago in June 2009, challenging the release of the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s founding ameer Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who had been placed under house arrest in December 2008 at his Lahore residence following allegations of his involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks which killed 166 people.
The federal government’s appeal against the Lahore High Court’s order to put an end to Saeed’s house arrest and set him free was filed on June 24, 2009 but could not be taken up earlier by the apex court for various technical reasons. The Supreme Court quashed the appeal, saying the government had failed to provide sufficient evidence against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed pertaining to his alleged involvement in the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 that killed 166 people. The apex court’s verdict actually upheld the Lahore High Court’s June 3, 2009 judgment when it decided Saeed’s habeas corpus petition and ordered the Punjab government to release him immediately, saying the Pakistani authorities did not have proof to detain the petitioner for preventive measures.
Rejecting the government’s contention that Saeed had been put under house arrest due to his alleged al-Qaeda and Taliban links and that he should remain behind bars in the larger interest of Pakistan, the Lahore High Court declared his detention illegal and unconstitutional, adding that the federal government has no evidence of the JuD leaders links with al-Qaeda or their involvement in any anti-state activity except allegations leveled by India that they were involved in the Mumbai attacks. The LHC released its detailed verdict on 6 June 2009, making public the grounds on which it had ordered the release of Saeed. One of the grounds said: “The security laws and anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan are so far silent on al-Qaeda being a terrorist organisation. Therefore, Hafiz Saeed can’t be kept under detention due to his alleged al-Qaeda links”.
The high court verdict further stated: “As regard the contention of the Attorney General of Pakistan that the petitioners are being blamed to be involved in Mumbai attacks, not a single document was brought on the record showing that the JuD or the petitioners were ever involved in the incident. Soon after his release, the freed JuD ameer said his freedom became possible due to an independent judiciary in the country, adding that due to the grace of God, all the Indian allegations leveled against him and the JuD have been set aside by the Lahore High Court. Saeed declared that the moment would come soon when India would be forced to put an end to its illegal occupation of Jammu & Kashmir.
The high court orders and the subsequent release of Hafiz Saeed raised serious doubts in India about the Pakistani establishment’s sincerity in bringing the Mumbai terror suspects to book. The newly-elected Congress-led government in India handed over to the Pakistani high commissioner in New Delhi a protest letter, saying it was disturbed by the release of Hafiz Saeed and wanted Pakistan to act against those responsible for the 26 November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Subsequently, almost three weeks after the release of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed on the orders of the Lahore High Court, the federal as well as Punjab governments challenged the LHC decision in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, saying the JuD chief needed to be detained in his own interest and in the interest of Pakistan. The two petitions maintained that by seeking his house arrest, the Pakistan government was only trying to ensure the implementation of the restrictions that had been imposed on the Jamaatul Daawa by the United Nations Security Council.
However, in a surprised move on 15 July, 2009, the Punjab government decided to dissociate itself from Hafiz Saeed detention case in the Supreme Court, saying that the federal government lacks considerable evidence against the JuD ameer to convince the apex court to allow his continued preventive detention. The hearing of the federal government’s appeal was deferred for an indefinite period by the apex court. Meanwhile, on 20 September 2009, ahead of the scheduled meetings of the foreign secretaries and the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session, the Pakistani police registered cases against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and his close aide Abu Jandal under the Anti Terrorism Act of 1997 for making inflammatory speeches and placed curbs on their movements.
Three First Information Reports (FIRs) – two against Saeed and one against Abu Jandal – were registered at police stations in the Faisalabad district of Punjab for allegedly inciting people to wage jehad against infidels. The cases were filed in connection with Hafiz Saeed’s visit to Faisalabad on 27 and 28 August 2009. According to the contents of the FIRs, Saeed had attended iftar dinners and held a meeting with activists of his banned organisation during which he had asked the people to wage a jehad against India, besides seeking donations from the gatherings for jehad. The FIRs were registered in the police stations at People’s Colony, Madina Town and Sadar in Faisalabad. On 23 September 2009, Hafiz Saeed filed a constitutional petition in the Lahore High Court, seeking quashment of two FIRs registered against him on charges of instigating people to launch a jehad against the US, India and Israel. On 12 October 2009, the Lahore High Court quashed all cases against Hafiz Saeed and set him free. The court further notified that the JuD was not a banned organization and can work freely in Pakistan to collect funds, carry on membership and hold congregations.
As the deferred petition of the federal government challenging the release of Hafiz Saeed came up for hearing on Tuesday, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk dismissed it while upholding the Lahore High Court’s decision. Diplomatic circles in Islamabad say New Delhi is likely to be dismayed by the Pakistani apex court’s decision, which comes shortly after the two countries agreed to resume talks that had been frozen by India after the Mumbai terror attacks. However, the government circles in Islamabad say the PPP government has nothing to do with the apex court decision as the hostility of the Supreme Court towards the federal government is a general knowledge thing now a days.