Mastermind Hafiz Saeed to be Released From House Detention

Hafiz Saeed the Mumbai attack mastermind was detained on January 30 along with four of his associates

Provincial authorities have since extended Saeed's detention several times. The board's order paved the way for Saeed's release. The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity led by Mr Saeed which the United Nations considers a front for terrorism, told the Telegraph it was a triumph for their cause.

The development is a further setback to India-Pakistan ties already in limbo and there was no official reaction from New Delhi. He had been placed under house arrest in January.

A Punjab Home Department official said it is feared the release could invite worldwide sanctions on the country. "Further recommendation for his detention is in the interest of peace and order".

Last month, the board had allowed a 30-day extension to the detention of Saeed which will expire next week.

The court has rejected the Pakistani government's request to extend the duration of terrorist house arrest by three months. On Friday, Mr Saeed is expected to walk free. Observers in India wondered whether state agencies were really serious about detaining Saeed or his release was carefully scripted by his military allies.

US and Indian officials did not immediately comment on the court's order.

The religious leader is likely to be released later this week, said his counsel.

"The government can not afford to set Saeed free in the current circumstance. It can not face global backlash in the event of releasing the JuD chief", the official source told PTI. However, the court refused the plea and said Saeed will be released as per the earlier sentence.

"The representatives and officials of the government and ministries were all saying that I should not be freed but the judges heard all their arguments and set them aside and ordered my release", he said. The court ruled the government could not produce sufficient evidence to justify his detention.

On 31 January, Saeed and his four aides - Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain - were detained by the Punjab government for 90 days under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and the Fourth Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

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