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Pakistan withdraws terror charges against Hafiz Saeed

This will possibly let him off the hook for his involvement in Mumbai attacks

Pakistani authorities have withdrawn terrorism charges against Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), paving the way for the possible release of the man designated a terrorist by the UN, the U.S. and India for his involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

A Punjab government official told a review board of the Supreme Court on Saturday that the provincial government had not included charges of terrorism in the new order for Saeed and his aides’ detention, and they were now being held under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance, 1960.

Authorities had earlier detained him under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Release sought

His lawyer A.K. Dogar urged the court to order his release as well as that of his four aides since they were no longer being held under the ATA.

The Lahore High Court is expected to decide the applications of Saeed and his aides in the coming week after Justice Muzahir Naqvi asked the government to file “charges against him or else he may order his release”.

Earlier, on Friday, the government had told a High Court judge that it would provide all the evidence against Saeed and his banned organisation in his chamber while urging the court not to grant any relief to him. But it was not made clear when the government would file specific charges against him.

Saeed and the JuD are already banned by the UN, while the U.S. has announced a $10 million bounty for his arrest.

Held in January

He was held during a raid on the JuD’s Lahore headquarters in January and put under house arrest. His lawyer told the court on Saturday that the Punjab government had once again extended his detention for three months.

Saeed had challenged his detention in the Lahore High Court, alleging that it was due to U.S. pressure and he had never been charged for any crime.

Pakistan’s Election Commission on Wednesday rejected the application of the Milli Muslim League party, which was formed to put Saeed’s banned JuD in the political mainstream. The Interior Ministry wrote a letter to the EC that the JuD and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaaniyat were under sanctions within the country and internationally.

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