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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 18:49 GMT
Pakistan still holding 'freed' militant
Indian military vehicle damaged by cycle-bomb in Srinagar, Kashmir
Jaish and others are opposed to Indian rule in Kashmir
An outlawed Islamic militant leader in Pakistan is still under house arrest two days after a court ordered his immediate release.

The group Maulana Masood Azhar heads is accused of a string of deadly attacks on Indian targets.

A hard copy of the court order is still awaited

Pakistani prison official
He was detained after an attack on parliament in Delhi a year ago, but ordered freed for lack of evidence.

India reacted angrily to the verdict, accusing Pakistan of failing to do enough to bring charges against him.

The parliament attack, which Pakistan condemned and denied any involvement in, brought the nuclear-armed neighbours to the brink of war.

International pressure has helped ease tensions in recent months.

Formal release

A BBC correspondent in Lahore said a police guard on Azhar's house in the Punjabi city of Bahawalpur should have been removed on Saturday.

Hijacked Indian Airlines jet on tarmac at Kandahar airport
Azhar was freed after an Indian jet was hijacked
But a prison official in Bahawalpur told the BBC on Monday that a copy of the Lahore High court order had to be received before the prisoner could be set free.

That has so far not happened.

Local newspapers have reported that Pakistan's authorities may be considering framing new charges against Azhar, following pressure from India.

The government has not commented on the reports.

Our correspondent says any new charges would be seen in Pakistan as resulting from Indian pressure.

Hijack

Azhar is the second militant leader to be released in Pakistan in under a month.

Delhi was outraged in November when the founder and former leader of Lashkar-e-Toiba, also blamed in the parliament attack, was freed in similar circumstances.

Azhar spent five years in Indian custody, but was released in late 1999 in exchange for passengers on a hijacked Indian Airlines jet.

Jaish-e-Mohammad, which Azhar set up three years ago, and Lashkar-e-Toiba were among five groups banned by Pakistan after the parliament attack.

None of the leaders arrested were charged with any unlawful activity, and most have since been freed on court orders.

The five parliament gunmen shot dead nine people before they themselves were killed.

Four others were subsequently arrested and found guilty of charges relating to the attack by an anti-terrorism court in Delhi on Monday.

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13 Dec 02 | South Asia
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