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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 14:22 GMT
Pakistan militant to be released
Anti-terrorist squad on duty in Islamabad
Anti-terrorism measures were recently reinforced
A court in Pakistan has ordered the immediate release of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Toiba militant group.


[Mr Saeed's detention order is] illegal and without lawful authority

Justice CI Ahmad
The latest release order follows a fresh petition challenging the detention order served on him after he was brought back to his family home in Lahore.

Mr Saeed was arrested in May, shortly after two attacks in Indian-administered Kashmir which killed more than 30 people, including 25 Indian troops and their families.

He was returned to his home in Lahore at the end of October but has been under house arrest since then.

Desperate act

Justice Chaudhri Ijaz Ahmad of the Lahore High Court, on Monday, declared the detention order, passed under a public order law, as "illegal and without lawful authority".

Hafiz Mohammad Saeed
Mr Saeed has been under house arrest since October
Mr Saeed's wife had filed a petition demanding that the government present her husband before a court, but the Ministry of Interior said it did not know his whereabouts.

The BBC's Shahid Malik in Lahore says that by the time he was returned home last month, his lawyers had already withdrawn the petition in an act of desperation.

Sources close to Mr Saeed now say they expect the police guard outside his home to be withdrawn later on Monday.

Brink of war

Correspondents say the court order to free Mr Hussain could embarrass the government as it follows Islamabad's decision to tighten the country's anti-terrorism laws.

The decision, announced on Sunday, allows the police to detain suspects for up to a year without bringing charges.

The amended law also allows security forces to investigate the assets and bank accounts of relatives of suspects.

Pakistan has suffered from a number of attacks on minority and Western targets since President Musharraf decided to support the US-led "campaign against international terrorism".

Delhi too has accused Pakistan of supporting militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba which attack security forces and other targets in Indian-administered Kashmir and elsewhere in India.

Following an attack on the Indian parliament last December, the two countries massed large forces along their borders and appeared to be on the brink of war.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

31 Oct 02 | South Asia
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
03 Oct 02 | South Asia
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
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