A Pakistani court on Thursday directed the government not to “harass” Lashkar-eTaiba founder Hafiz Saeed and to allow him to continue his “social welfare activities” till the next hearing in a case related to his petition accusing authorities of interfering in his welfare projects.
Justice Ameenud Din Khan of the Lahore high court issued the directive after hearing the petition filed by Saeed’s lawyer AK Dogar.
The judge directed the federal and Punjab governments to respond to the petition by April 23, the date of the next hearing.
Saeed contended in his petition that the government was interfering in the Jamaat-ud-Dawah’s welfare projects because it had given in to pressure from India and the United States. The petition argued that barring an organisation from indulging in charity work goes against the Constitution.
“The JuD has always participated in and contributed to social welfare activities,” the petition claimed.
The court’s order came just three days after the US declared the Milli Muslim League (MML), the political party formed by Saeed, as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation. The US also sanctioned seven LeT-linked terrorists who hold key posts in the MML.
Saeed had earlier announced that the MML would contest Pakistan’s upcoming general election.
Dogar urged the judge that the case should be heard by a full bench of the court because of its “sensitive nature”. The judge said a decision on constituting a full bench will be made at the next hearing.
Saeed, who was held under house arrest for nearly 10 months last year before being freed by a tribunal of judges, had filed a nearly identical petition before the same judge last month. Due to the similar nature of both petitions, the court decided to club the cases.
On January 1, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan had barred JuD and several other organisations sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council from collecting donations.
On February 12, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 was amended through the Anti-Terrorism Ordinance issued by President Mamnoon Hussain to ban all groups sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
The move came days before a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary meeting was to review Pakistan’s efforts to curb financing for terror groups such as the JuD and LeT. However, Pakistan’s actions were not enough and the FATF voted to placed the country on a watch list from June for not doing enough to counter terror financing.