News Analysis |
Hafiz Saeed’s party Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) against government’s ban on their welfare activities. The government banned JuD and its welfare wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) after an ordinance passed by the president of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain on 10th February. The ordinance amended a section of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and proscribed organizations that were listed in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions lists.
The petitioner’s counsel advocate AK Dogar argued that Hafiz Saeed was the founder and chairman of JuD and FIF and had established 142 schools and three universities. He stated that Hafiz was engaged in public welfare activities for the past several years. The petition argued that it was unlawful to bar anyone from engaging and they should be allowed to carry their activities without any hurdles.
Justice Aminuddin Khan heard the case and ordered the federal and provincial governments to file their response in the next fifteen days. Hafiz Saeed had earlier approached the court on 24th January against his possible arrest by the government. The court gave a stay order on his arrest until 8th March. The order was extended until 4th April and the government cannot take any action against Hafiz, JuD and FIF until the deadline. The hearing will commence again on 4th April.
The government of Pakistan had earlier banned JuD, FIF and other organisation on the UNSC sanctions list. The notification was issued by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) on 1st January 2018. Hafiz Saeed had blamed the government for taking dictation from US and India on banning his organisations. He challenged them to prove any illegal activities of the organisations in the court.
The move was followed by the President’s ordinance. After the ordinance, the federal government started seizing the assets of JuD and FIF under Anti-Terrorism Rules 2018. A notice was issued to the Punjab government in this regard to act against proscribed organizations. It was believed that the action against JuD and FIF took place to please the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) authorities who held their annual session in February last month.
The US government has put a bounty of 10 million dollars on Hafiz Saeed for his role in the Mumbai attacks.
It was decided that Pakistan will be put on the FATF greylist on June this year because even though it was following the FATF guidelines to cut terror financing, it still lacked an adequate mechanism to ensure that terrorists were not given enough funding. Hafiz Saeed has repeatedly accused India and US of putting pressure on Pakistan to prescribe him. He was wanted by the Indian government for 2001 attack on Lok Sabha, 2006 Mumbai train bombings, and 2008 Mumbai attacks.
The US government has put a bounty of 10 million dollars on Hafiz Saeed for his role in the Mumbai attacks but surprisingly, this bounty is for the information that can legally indict Saeed. So far, no evidence has been provided either by the Indian government or the US government to link Saeed with those terrorist attacks even after multiple requests by Pakistan.
Law experts believe that according to the constitution of Pakistan and International laws, every person is innocent unless proven guilty so Pakistani government has no grounds to take any legal action against Saeed. His links with any terrorist organization have not been proved so far. He was previously house arrested by the Pakistani government but was released after orders of the LHC.
The Pakistani government is in a conundrum now since they are bound by the law and cannot act any person or organization without adequate evidence. On the other hand, Pakistan is facing tremendous pressure from the international world to ban Hafiz Saeed and his organizations JuD and FIF. For now, they have only been banned through a presidential ordinance which according to the Article 89 of the constitution, will expire within 3 months, which is this case will be on 10th May.
Strategic experts believe that since Pakistan cannot legally detain or stop the activities of Saeed and his organizations, the government is playing delay tactics to reduce the international pressure and at the same time avoid breaching its legal boundaries. The ban on Saeed’s organizations might be reversed in the next hearing if the federal and provincial governments fail to provide any evidence against him in the LHC.