A Pakistani court on Tuesday asked the federal government to respond by March 29 to a petition filed by Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba-linked Jamat ud Dawa, seeking legal aid to defend him in a lawsuit filed in a United States court by relatives of two Jewish victims of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore high court directed the deputy attorney general to appear before him on March 29 with the government's reply to Saeeds petition.
Saeed had wanted his petition to be heard by Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry but he refused and forwarded the matter to Justice Bandial.
A K Dogar, the counsel for Saeed, told the court on Tuesday that the government had detained Saeed in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
However, a full bench of the Lahore high court had ordered Saeed's release and observed that there was no evidence that he had links with Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation which could endanger the security of Pakistan, Dogar said.
Dogar claimed that an "Indian lobby" had made allegations that Saeed was involved in Mumbai attacks. He said a US district court issued summons to Saeed on December 16 last year in connection with a case related to the Mumbai attacks.
On December 31, the federal government announced it would defend other persons named in the US lawsuit, including Inter-Service Intelligence officials, but it did not show any intention to defend Saeed, Dogar said.
Saeed is a citizen of Pakistan and should be defended by the government, he said.
The court in Brooklyn has summoned current ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and his predecessor Nadeem Taj and LeT leaders, including Saeed, to appear before it in connection with the lawsuit filed by relatives of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, who were among the 166 people killed during the Mumbai carnage.