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Pakistan: Hafiz Saeed granted bail by anti-terrorism court in illegal land use case

An anti-terrorism court in Lahore on Monday granted pre-arrest bail to Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and three others in a case related to the outfit’s alleged illegal use of land for its seminary, Dawn reported. Saeed, Hafiz Masood, Ameer Hamza and Malik Zafar were granted bail till August 31 against a surety bond of 50,000 Pakistani rupees (21,500 Indian rupees) each.

The counsel for the accused argued that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa was not using any piece of land illegally and urged the court to accept the bail pleas.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court issued notices to the federal government, the Punjab government and the Counter-Terrorism Department on a petition filed by Saeed and his seven aides challenging the terror financing case against them. The case was filed on July 3 against Hafiz Saeed and 12 senior leaders of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

The action followed a warning from the Financial Action Task Force, a global watchdog, that Pakistan could be put on its blacklist for not meeting the deadline to implement an action plan to curb terror financing.

The federal government objected to the notices and argued that the petition was non-maintainable. The court dismissed the objection and adjourned proceedings until July 30, Dawn reported. Saeed and the seven other petitioners were represented by senior lawyer AK Dogar.

The other petitioners in the case are Muhammad Ayub Sheikh, Zafar Iqbal, Syed Luqman Ali Shah, Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Abdul Salam, Abdul Ghaffar and Abdul Qudoos Shahid.

Their joint petition had said that a first information report filed on July 1 illegally described them as members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and levelled unlawful allegations of terror financing. Their lawyer had asked the court to quash the FIR filed by the Counter Terrorism Department for being unlawful and for having no legal effect.

The Counter Terrorism Department filed the cases in five cities of Punjab province. It alleged that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa was financing terrorism from funds collected through non-profit organisations and trusts such as Al-Anfaal Trust, Dawatul Irshad Trust, and Muaz Bin Jabal Trust. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa is believed to be a front for the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. In March, Islamabad had added Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation to its list of proscribed organisations.

However, India had said Pakistan’s filing of terror charges against Saeed was a “cosmetic step” that shows its double standards. The Ministry of External Affairs had said Pakistan only claims to take action.

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