News of Hafiz Saeed’s detention was carried prominently by Pakistani newspapers on their front pages, with the Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief saying his confinement order was the result of an “international conspiracy”.
The Nation, which headlined its report “Defiant Hafiz Saeed detained”, was one of the few dailies to carry a photo of him being escorted away by police from the JuD’s ‘markaz’ or centre at Chowburji in Lahore.
“Defying the detention orders, Saeed talked to media outside the” Jamia Masjid al-Qadsia and said the confinement order was the outcome of “an international conspiracy”, the report said.
“He alleged the Pakistani government was doing the bidding of India at the behest of the US to stifle (the) Kashmir freedom movement,” it added.
“Hundreds of Saeed’s foot-soldiers chanted full throated slogans as he appeared from the mosque complex along with police officers to talk to media crews,” the report said.
The influential Dawn daily reported that the UN Security Council had imposed sanctions against the JuD and declared it a terrorist organisation in 2008. “New Delhi blames Saeed for the Mumbai attacks, but Pakistan argues that India has failed to provide incriminating evidence against him,” the report said.
The Dawn quoted a JuD spokesman as saying that the group would not resist police action and preferred to fight their case in court.
Hours before his detention, Saeed briefed the media on the Kashmir issue. Asked about a possible ban on the JuD, he said he would move court instead of setting up an alternative party, the Dawn reported.
The Express Tribune quoted interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as saying that action was being taken against the JuD leadership “to fulfil our international obligations”.
It said the JuD has been listed under the Second Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, whereby the government can detain a person for 12 months and extend the detention from time to time.
The Tribune quoted the interior ministry’s order as saying that the JuD had been “taking steps causing harm to peace and security, and (was) involved in activities that violate UN Security Council Resolution 1267”, which is on sanctions against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The News daily buried details of Saeed’s detention in a report that mainly focused on remarks by the interior minister. It mentioned the minister’s criticism of the visa restrictions imposed by US President Donald Trump and his remarks that it was wrong to link Islam with terrorism.
The report said the government decided to put JuD and its front organisation, Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation, on the interior ministry’s watch list and approved freezing their leaders’ assets and cancelling their passports and arms licenses to ensure that the country is not blacklisted by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The media reports said Saeed had asked JuD activists to gather in large numbers across the country on February 5 to observe Kashmir Solidarity Day. “I believe this is not against me but to sabotage the freedom movement of Kashmir,” he was quoted as saying.
The government, Saeed said, is “helpless” before the pressure of Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Action was taken against him on “Modi’s insistence and Trump’s instigation”, he said.
He also challenged the government “to show us if there is even a single FIR registered against the JuD anywhere in Pakistan”.