The Pakistan government on Monday informed a court that it could not defend Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in a US lawsuit filed by relatives of two Jewish victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Deputy Attorney General Naseem Kashmiri, in a written reply submitted on behalf of Foreign Ministry to Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court, said: "The government is defending the ISI before the US court being an institute of the government while the JuD or its chief are not part of the government."
"Therefore, the government cannot provide legal assistance to him or his organisation," the reply said.
After examining the government's response, the judge asked Saeed's counsel A K Dogar to present the law under which the court could direct the government to defend a private individual in a US court.
Dogar sought time to prepare his arguments and the court adjourned the matter till June 30.
The lawsuit was filed in a Brooklyn court last year by relatives of US nationals Rabbi Gabriel Noah Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were among the 166 people killed in the Mumbai attacks.
The US court had issued summons to Saeed, the current and a former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency and several other persons who were named in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit accuses Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, commanders Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Azam Cheema and Sajid Majid, former ISI chief Nadeem Taj, incumbent head Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and two others of providing material support for the Mumbai attacks.
For each of nine claims, the plaintiffs have sought damages of $75,000.
Saeed contended that he is the head of the JuD and had no links with LeT.
He contended that the government should defend him in the lawsuit in the same manner that it is protecting the ISI chief and other officials.