Pakistan releases 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed from house arrest

According to The Guardian, Saeed's primary target is the disputed Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Several JuD supporters, gathered outside Saeed's house in Lahore's Jauhar town to celebrate his release, shouted anti- India slogans.

The Punjab government in January placed JuD chief and his four aides under house arrest for their alleged activities to "harm peace and security". Seeking an end to his detention, Saeed argued that his captivity without any legality amounted to a violation of the Constitution and his human rights. The last two extensions were made on the "public safety law".

Challenging India's disagreement over releasing him, Hafiz Saeed said that India did everything to keep him under arrest but all the efforts are in vain. However, the board rejected the plea to extend his detention on the grounds of insufficient evidences.

Raveesh Kumar, representative, Ministry of External Affairs, said a press briefing that Saeed was not just the instigator but also the prime organizer of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. New Delhi has repeatedly urged Islamabad to punish him for the killings.

India accused Pakistan of helping organize the attacks in cooperation with Saeed, who is head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) charity, which US officials say is a front for the banned Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.

The banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah head, who carries a bounty of Dollars 10 million announced by the U.S. for his role in terror activities, has been under detention since January this year.

"When the government was not able to present any evidence to justify [Saeed's] continued detention, the court ordered his release when his current detention order expires" on Thursday, said his spokesman, Nadeem Awan, to Al Jazeera.

As such, Saeed is all set to be released from house arrest after the expiry of the detention order on Thursday.

While Saeed was under house arrest, his JuD charity launched a political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML), which has won thousands of votes in by-elections.

Intelligence Bureau officials say that with Saeed walking free, the cadres would be motivated.

India and the United States expressed concern at his release, calling for Saeed to be prosecuted over the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including Americans.

"I am very happy that none of the allegations against me proved as three judges of the LHC ordered my release.India had levelled baseless allegations against me".

In 2001 he was held for three months when LeT was accused of carrying out the attack on the Indian parliament.

  • Joey Payne