Pakistan extends detention of Lashkar-linked charity chief

9 March 2009
The Hindustan Times

Lahore: Pakistan on Monday extended the house arrest of the head of a charity widely viewed as a front for the banned Islamist group that India blames for the Mumbai attacks. A panel of three judges from the Lahore High Court extended the detention of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and three other members of his party for 60 days, the board's registrar Syed Nasir Ali Shah told reporters. Saeed, with five other Dawa leaders - Amir Hamza, Mufti Abdul Rehman, Yasin Baloch, retired colonel Nazir Ahmed and Qazi Kashif Niaz - were produced before the review board amid tight security. Their previous detention period expired on Monday. The judges ordered the release of Qazi Kashif and Yasin Baloch, Shah said. The board, headed by Justice Najmuz Zaman, ordered the government to pay a 'subsistence allowance' of 25,000 rupees (311 dollars) per month to the family of each detainee for the detention period, Shah added. Pakistan placed Saeed and several top Dawa leaders under house arrest in early December when police closed its offices across the country after the UN Security Council declared the charity a terror group. Saeed founded the outlawed Kashmiri militant Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which India blamed for the November attacks on Mumbai. Islamabad came under international pressure to place him and other Dawa members under house arrest. India says the charity is a front for LeT, which it also accuses of an attack on its parliament in 2001 that pushed the two neighbours to the brink of war, and has demanded that Pakistan outlaw the organisation. Dawa is one of Pakistan's biggest charities and is known across the country for its relief work after the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. The United States also views the charity, which operates out of a sprawling headquarters near Lahore, as a terror group. The group denies all terror accusations. The Mumbai attacks, which left 165 people dead, soured a five-year peace process between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.