Hafiz Saeed pleads for defence lawyer in US court

Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed submitted a fresh application in a Pakistani court asking the judge to direct the government to defend him in a US lawsuit filed by relatives of victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Last Updated: Jan 21, 2011, 00:42 AM IST

Lahore: Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed
on Thursday submitted a fresh application in a Pakistani court
asking the judge to direct the government to defend him in a
US lawsuit filed by relatives of victims of the 2008 Mumbai
attacks.

Saeed, who has been linked to the banned
Lashker-e-Taiba terror outfit, had earlier filed an
application in the court of Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh of the
Lahore High Court but sought permission from the judge on
Monday to place the matter before Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad
Chaudhry.

"On the direction of Justice Sheikh, we filed the
application in the Chief Justice`s court today," A K Dogar,
the counsel for Saeed, said.

Dogar said he expected the application to be taken up
by the court in the next few days.

Saeed had contended that he wanted the application to
be taken up by Chief Justice Chaudhry as the latter had heard
similar cases involving the JuD chief in the past.

Chaudhry, who was recently appointed Chief Justice of
the Lahore High Court, headed a division bench that freed
Saeed from house arrest on June 2, 2009.

Saeed had then been detained by Pakistani authorities
after the UN Security Council declared the JuD a front for the
banned Lashker-e-Taiba.

Chaudhry has also ruled in favour of several petitions
filed by pro-Islamist organisations and groups.

In a controversial ruling last year, he briefly banned
Facebook after some groups objected to pages on the social
networking website that featured blasphemous caricatures of
Prophet Mohammed.

In his application, Saeed asked the court to direct
the federal government to appoint a counsel to defend him in
the lawsuit filed in a Brooklyn court by relatives of two
Jewish victims of the 2008 attacks.

Saeed claimed he had the right to seek aid from the
government as it had decided to defend the officials of the
powerful spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence named in the
lawsuit.

The Pakistan government has already skirted the issue
of defending Saeed in the US lawsuit, with the Foreign Office
spokesman saying authorities would only protect the interests
of officials named in the case.

Pakistan`s decision to defend ISI officials does not
apply to "non-officials", the spokesman said last week.
Even as he seeks legal aid from the government for the
US lawsuit, Saeed has said he refuses to accept the
jurisdiction of the American court that has issued summon`s to
him and ISI officials.

Saeed submitted his objection to the summons to the US
court through his counsel Dogar. Dogar said Saeed did not
recognise the jurisdiction of any US court and was filing the
reply to protest the "unwarranted and illegal" summons.

He claimed neither international nor American law
allowed the US court to extend its jurisdiction to another
country. "We cannot expect justice from any American court,
even if it had jurisdiction," he said.

Dogar repeated Saeed`s claim that he had nothing to do
with the banned Lashker-e-Taiba and that the JuD was a
"charitable organisation".

PTI