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Hafiz Saeed to walk free, Pak court orders release of 26/11 mastermind

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Lahore High Court adjourns Hafiz Sayeed's detention case

Firebrand cleric Hafiz Saeed, who heads the UN-listed terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, will be freed tomorrow after less than a year in detention following the decision by the Lahore High Court, a JuD official said.

The Judicial Review Board comprising judges of the Lahore High Court passed the order, observing there were no substantial evidence submitted by the government to prove his involvement in terror activities.

The provincial government of Pakistan's eastern province of Punjab had asked for an extension to Saeed's detention but the request was turned down by the court, reports quoting prosecutor Sattar Sahil.

Saeed, leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, with alleged links with Lashkar-e-Toiba, was put on house arrest on January 31 along with Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain. It had submitted before the review board that release of Saeed could lead to the imposition of global sanctions on Pakistan.

Saeed's aides were freed in the last week of October after the Punjab government did not extend the notification for their detention under the Anti-Terrorism Act and withdrew an application pending before the federal review board.

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Saeed's release may also coincide with the anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in which at least 166 people were killed.

Hafiz Saeed term will be expiring next week.

Following the decision, Saeed told media that an end to his detention is tantamount to the victory of truth, calling it "a serious blow" to India's demands. A large number of JuD workers also gathered on the court s premises.

Speaking to PTI, an official source said, "The government can not afford to set Saeed free in the current circumstance".

Under the law, the government can detain a person for up to three months under different charges but for extension to that detention it needs approval from a judicial review board.

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