A file of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed. Photo: AFP
A file of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed. Photo: AFP

Pakistan seeks extension of Hafiz Saeed’s detention

Pakistan's Punjab seeks the extension of detention of Hafiz Saeed under public safety law, 2 days after withdrawing its application to prolong his house arrest under the anti-terrorism law

New Delhi/Lahore: Pakistan’s Punjab government on Tuesday sought an extension of the detention of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, who has been accused of masterminding the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Saeed, who has been under house arrest since January, was presented before a three-member provincial judicial review board at the Lahore high court.

On Saturday, the Pakistan government withdrew terrorism charges against Hafiz Saeed and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, placing him in detention under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) rules, which sparked speculation of a possible release.

India’s home ministry reacted sharply to the development.

“Hafiz Saeed is a designated global terrorist and Pakistan’s flip-flop over the matter only reflects their long-term approach to tackling home grown terrorism from their soil. There is enough evidence to prove Saeed’s guilt, but the state’s inertia is to India’s detriment," said a senior home ministry official on condition of anonymity.

According to defence experts in India, not only was Pakistan bolstered by tacit US support, but it also did not take international pressure seriously.

“Donald Trump has now done a U-turn with America’s stance against Pakistan. Pakistan does not care about international pressure and now America can’t afford to lose Pakistan as a strategic ally because they have troops in Afghanistan. There are hostages held by the Haqqani Network and America needs Pakistan to get them out," said H.S. Panag, a former lieutenant general of the Indian Army and defence expert.

Panag added that Saeed’s release would not drastically impact India’s military operations on this side of the Line of Control.

“Whether outside or inside prison, Hafiz Saeed controls all terror activities. So it will not make any difference to our military activities. For Pakistan, Saeed is an asset against India and that is the national agenda they will pursue," Panag said.