Islamabad: JuD chief Hafiz Saeed’s detention may help ease Indo-Pak tension, media here said today even as supporters of the Mumbai attack mastermind launched protests across major cities against the government’s decision which they say was taken under pressure from the US and India. Saeed, who was detained on Monday at his Lahore headquarters, has been shifted to his residence which has been declared as a sub-jail by authorities in Punjab province. The provincial authorities have also started to remove the banners of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) from the roads of Lahore.
National flags have been hoisted at the JuD offices in Lahore, instead of party flags, on the directives of the provincial home department.
As he was placed under house arrest, his supporters launched protests in cities like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.
“The detention of Hafiz Saeed could help ease tensions between nuclear-armed foes Pakistan and India, although New Delhi has not yet responded,” said a daily.
It said that the 2008 Mumbai attack brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war after 10 gunmen killed 166 people in a rampage that included attacks on two luxury hotels, a Jewish center and a train station.
Saeed has denied any role in the attack and has distanced himself from LeT, while leading his charity JuD.
Supporters accused Nawaz Sharif government of succumbing to the wishes of the US, which has offered a USD 10 million reward for information leading to Saeed’s arrest.
“This government has buckled under the pressure,” JuD spokesperson Nadeem Awan said who also accused India of pressurising the government.
Another spokesperson, Farooq Azam, announced protests in Karachi by “different religious and Kashmiri leaders”.
The paper said a senior Pakistani defence ministry official said Islamabad had not been contacted by the new administration of US President Donald Trump but had been feeling US pressure on the issue.
“Trump is taking hard decisions against Muslim countries; there is open talk of actions against Pakistan also. So yes, this was a consideration,” said the official.
Other government officials have said recently that a broader diplomatic campaign – pushed by India – to isolate Pakistan has taken a toll, even involving pressure from longtime ally China.
Four days back, Punjab’s Ministry of Interior had included names of Saeed and four others — Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Niaz — in the Watch List as per UNSC 1267 Sanctions and ordered their preventive detention.
Ubaid, Iqbal, Abid and Niaz were also also taken into preventive custody, Pakistani media reported.
Punjab government’s action comes amidst pressure on Pakistan from the Trump administration that it must take action against JuD and Saeed to avoid sanctions.
JuD is the front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror outfit which is responsible for numerous terror attacks in India, including the Mumbai terror strike of November 26,2008, which was masterminded by Saeed.
JuD has already been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States in June 2014.
Earlier too Saeed was put under house arrest after the Mumbai attack, but was released about six months later in June 2009 after a court order.