Hafiz Saeed sues Pakistan minister for calling him ‘darling’ of US

Hafiz Saeed, the chief of banned Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), has sent a Rs 100 million defamation notice to Pakistan’s foreign minister Khawaja Asif for his remarks at a seminar in New York earlier this week.

Speaking at the Asia Society forum, Asif had said: “Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis [the Haqqani Network] and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds [referring to the head of banned Jamaatud Dawa]. These people were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dined and wined in the White House and now you say ‘go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people’.”

He had also said that people like Hafiz Saeed and the Haqqanis were “liabilities” for Pakistan and the country needed time to “get rid of them.”

The notice, served by Advocate AK Dogar under Section 8 of the Defamation Ordinance of 2002, claims that Saeed is “respected as a deeply religious and devout Muslim”, Pakistani media reported.

“I will be failing in my duty as a lawyer if I do not remind you of the Fundamental Right enshrined in Article 14 that [the] dignity of man is guaranteed by our Constitution,” the notice reads, according to Dawn newspaper.

The notice accuses Asif of “an absolute lie and falsehood that Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is one of those persons who had been the darlings of Americans and had been dining and wining in the White House.”

“I have been advised by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed to tell you that he has never been near the White House, not to speak of wined and dined. It is shocking to know that the foreign minister of my country is accusing Hafiz Muhammad Saeed of taking wine. This is abusive language and can never be used about my client. He is [a] patriotic Islam loving Muslim following the dictates of [the] Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). This is a defamatory statement punishable under Section 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to five years imprisonment and with [a] fine.”

I am constrained to issue this 14 days’ notice under Section 8 of the Defamation Ordinance 2002 of the intention of my client to bring an action against you specifying the defamatory matter complained of.”

“Please take notice that my client intends to file a suit for damages to the tune of Rs100m for injuring the reputation of my client not only in Pakistan but all over the world.”

Saeed was put under house arrest at his residence in Lahore’s Johar Town earlier this year in what  Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) termed “a policy decision”.

Director General ISPR Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor had said of the arrest: “This is a policy decision that the state took in national interest. Lots of institutions will have to do their jobs.”

He denied that any foreign pressure was behind the arrest of the JuD chief.

Saeed was detained under Section 11-EEE(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1977, according to an Interior Ministry notification issued at the time.

Recently, the Punjab home ministry, responding to an appeal for Saeed’s release before the Lahore High Court, said that releasing the JuD chief would cause unrest in the province.

Saeed is accused by the United States, which has offered a $10m bounty for him,  and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial capital Mumbai that killed 166 people

Saeed has repeatedly denied the charges.

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