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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Pakistan militant chief 'held illegally'
Hafiz Mohammed Saeed
Officials deny knowledge of his whereabouts

The wife of the founder of a leading Pakistani militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba, says her husband, Hafiz Saeed, is being held illegally.

She says that Mr Saeed, whose group is on a list of five banned militant organisations, is in the hands of Pakistan's powerful military intelligence agency, the ISI.


An illegal and unlawful confinement

Mehmoona Saeed

He had already spent time in detention - but reports emerging from Lahore claim he has been taken into custody again.

In a court petition, Mrs Saeed alleges that her husband has been in the custody of the ISI since 15 May this year.

Mrs Mehmoona Saeed has called it "an illegal and unlawful confinement."

Lashkar-e-Toiba, which is active in Indian-administered Kashmir, has been targeted as part of President Musharraf's clampdown on extremist groups.

Preventative measures

Mrs Saeed has made a plea to the Lahore High Court demanding a response from the Director General of the Pakistani intelligence agency.

Lahore High Court
Lahore High Court, where the case is filed
In the wake of a government ban on five Islamic militant groups in January this year, including Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hafiz Saeed was taken into preventative custody.

He was then released after three months on the orders of the Lahore High Court.

However, six weeks later, he was reportedly taken into custody again, an action challenged by his wife in the habeas corpus petition.

Denial

But the authorities in Islamabad and the Punjab provincial Government have denied these claims, saying they have no knowledge of his whereabouts.

They say that since he was not arrested under their orders, they do not know where Hafiz Saeed is.

This the first time an attempt has been made by Hafiz Saeed's family to implicate the powerful Pakistani military agency.

In the past, Lashkar-e-Toiba accepted responsibility for a number of armed attacks on targets in Indian-administered Kashmir, which analyst say were carried out with the backing of the ISI.

But differences became obvious after the Pakistani Government took a decision to put a blanket ban on the militant groups.

The move followed India's claims that Lashkar-e-Toiba was one of the two groups which carried out a bomb attack on the parliament building in Delhi last December.

The lawyers representing Mrs Saeed say the application is likely to be heard on Friday.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

02 Jan 02 | South Asia
31 Jul 02 | South Asia
24 Dec 01 | South Asia
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