LHC seeks Defence Ministry’s reply to Hafiz Saeed petition


LAHORE – Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday sought reply from defense ministry on a petition of Jamatud Dawa Chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed seeking directions for the government to defend him being a citizen of Pakistan before an US Court which issued summons to him, ISI incumbent chief and other officials on a law suit filed by relatives of US nationals killed in Mumbai attacks.
As proceedings started on Tuesday, a deputy attorney general submitted a written reply on behalf of interior ministry wherein it was stated that interior ministry has nothing to do with providing of lawyer or legal assistance to anyone in law suit pending in the US. Upon this, the petitioner’s counsel argued that the issue might be related to defense ministry so a reply should be called from it.
Justice Bandial accepted his plea and sought defense ministry reply for April 9. US nationals Rabbi Gabriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were killed by militants in Mumbai attacks. Their son Mr Moshe was saved and he along with other persons filed nine claims against banned outfit Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Azam Cheema and Sajid Majid as well as the ISI, its former chief Nadeem Taj and incumbent head, Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and two people who it alleges were part of the ISI-Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali.
They were accused of providing material support for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. For each of the claims, the plaintiffs have sought damages of 75,000 US dollars. Hafiz Saeed through his counsel AK Dogar pleads in the petition that he is the head of Jamatud Dawa, a charitable organization, and has no link with Lashkar-e-Tayyaba.
He says the government had detained him in 2009 and a full bench of LHC had ordered it to release him, observing that there was no evidence that he (Saeed) had any links with Al-Qaeda or any terrorist organization which could put the security of Pakistan in danger except for the bald allegations being leveled by Indian lobby that they were involved in Mumbai attacks.
The petitioner states that on Dec 16, 2010 he was served with summons from United States District Court in connection with a case relating to Mumbai attacks. He said on Dec 31, 2010 the federal government announced to defend legal suit against other parties including ISI head Lt Gen Ahmed Shujja Pasha.
Saeed pleads that he is a citizen of Pakistan and enjoying same rights like any other individual. He asserts that the government should also defend him in the same manner as it is protecting chief of ISI and other officials. He pointed out that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also said in national assembly that officials of ISI could not subjected to an American Court and the government would take appropriate steps for the dismissal of case.
The petitioner said under article 25 of the constitution all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law. Therefore, the federal government should be directed to defend him before American Court in the same manner as ISI officials are being protected, petitioner prays.