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Pakistan: Jamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed released

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Dawn

Hafiz Saeed verdict: Pakistan tells India not to interfere LAHORE: A Pakistani court Tuesday ordered the release of the head of a charity widely viewed as a front for the banned group that India blames for the Mumbai attacks, his lawyer said.

A panel of three judges from the high court in the eastern city of Lahore declared the detention of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and three other members of his party unlawful, lawyer A.K Dogar told reporters.

‘The arrest violated the constitution, therefore Hafiz Saeed and his colleagues are being released,' Dogar said.

‘Today's verdict shows that sovereignty lies in Almighty Allah,' he said to chants of ‘Allahu akbar' (God is greater) from supporters waiting outside the court.

Pakistan put Saeed and several top Dawa leaders under house arrest in early December when police closed offices of the charity across the country after the UN Security Council blacklisted the organisation as a terror group.

Saeed founded the outlawed Kashmiri Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which India blamed for the November attacks on Mumbai.

The Pakistani government came under international pressure to place him and other Dawa members under house arrest.

India says the charity is a front for LeT, which it also accuses over an attack on its parliament in 2001 that pushed the two nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war, and has demanded that Pakistan outlaw the organisation.

Dawa is one of Pakistan's biggest charities and is known across the country for its relief work after the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir.

Pakistan's ally, the United States, also views the charity, which operates out of a sprawling headquarters near Lahore, as a terror group.

But Dawa swiftly welcomed Tuesday's developments.

‘The order shows that courts in the country are free now and people are getting justice despite pressure,' Yahya Mujahid, a Dawa spokesman, told AFP.

‘We hope the authorities will now withdraw police guards deputed outside his residence which had been declared a sub-jail,' he said.

‘He can now move freely, meet his family and friends and resume the relief work of his party,' the spokesman added.

The group denies all terror accusations.

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