The Jamaat-ud-Dawah warned on Wednesday it will launch a nationwide protest if its chief Hafiz Saeed is not freed from house arrest even as some political parties accused the government bowing to pressure from the US to detain him.
The JuD said its protest will begin on Friday after congregational prayers. It added that it will challenge the detention of Saeed and four other JuD leaders in the Lahore high court.
The JuD and its partners in the Defa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) also said they would organise rallies across the country on February 5, which is observed as Kashmir Solidarity Day in Pakistan, on the instructions of Saeed.
Saeed and his aides were placed in “preventive detention” on Monday night. Reports have suggested the government’s decision was prompted by possible action against Pakistan by the Financial Action Task Force for not doing enough to curb the financing of terror groups such as the JuD, declared a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba by the US and the UN.
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the Jamaat-e-Islami were among parties that condemned Saeed’s detention, saying the PML-N government had given in to pressure from the US and western powers.
Senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Saeed’s house arrest was unwarranted because “he did not pose a threat to anyone in Pakistan”. DPC chief Samiul Haq claimed Saeed was detained to “please India”.
Shortly before he was detained, Saeed told his supporters the order for his arrest was issued from “Delhi and Washington”. In a series of tweets late on Tuesday, Saeed said he was detained for his “stance on Kashmir” and that the “Trump-Modi nexus” had put “great pressure” on Pakistan.
However, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said Saeed’s house arrest was the result of a “policy decision” taken in the national interest, suggesting a convergence between civilian and military authorities on the issue.
A column in the influential Dawn newspaper noted that if any external pressure compelled Pakistan to place Saeed under house arrest, it was more likely to have come from Beijing than Washington. The piece argued that China has for long leaned on Pakistan to tackle terror more robustly, and it’s arguably gotten results.
There was also speculation about the steps the JuD would take in the coming days. Senior journalist Mujibur Rehman Shami said the JuD was looking at re-branding itself and its front organisation, the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF). “The work of FIF will continue. It cannot get entangled with the political agenda of the JuD,” he said.