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LAHORE: Rejecting a recent statement of Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on friendly relations of the US with Pakistani militant groups in the past, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who is at present under house arrest, has sent a legal notice to the latter, asking him to be ready to face a Rs100 million damages suit.

In his speech at the Asia Society Forum in New York, Mr Asif rejected international claims that Pakistan fostered militant groups like the Haqqani network. He said, “Don’t blame us for the Haqqanis and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds. These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back.”

“A damages suit under Defamation Ordinance 2002 for damaging reputation of my client Hafiz Saeed would be filed against the foreign minister after expiry of 14-day warning,” senior lawyer A.K. Dogar said at a press conference at his residence.

He said Mr Asif in his statement before the Americans had uttered an absolute lie that JuD leader Saeed was one of those persons who had been darlings of Americans and that he had been “dining and wining in the White House”.

Khawaja Asif told to be ready to face damages suit over his remarks about militants

He said the statement of Pakistan’s minster on a foreign land was shocking and surprising for the citizens at homeland. Refuting the claim of the minister, the lawyer said that Mr Saeed had never been near the White House. “It is shocking to know that the foreign minister of my country is accusing me of taking wine,” he said on behalf of JuD chief, adding that “this is abusive language and can never be used about Hafiz Saeed”.

Mr Dogar said the minister’s remarks were defamatory and punishable under Section 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code by five-year imprisonment and fine.

He said the statement of the minister had damaged reputation of Hafiz Saeed not only in the country but also in whole world.

Besides civil proceedings, the lawyer warned, his client could also initiate criminal proceedings against Mr Asif.

The JuD chief and some other leaders of his organisation have been put under house arrest by the Punjab government. The detention has been challenged in the Lahore High Court on the grounds that it is violation of Hafiz Saeed’s fundamental rights”. The detained leaders plead that they could not be punished without a trial by a court of law.

Defending the detention of the JuD men, the home department had told the court that release of Hafiz Saeed and his associates would put law and order and public safety at risk. The department also questioned political activities of the JuD leaders under the banner of a yet-to-be registered political party, the Milli Muslim League.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2017