Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed has been barred by the government from delivering weekly Friday sermon at Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) headquarters in Lahore in Pakistan's Punjab province. This is perhaps for the first time in years that Saeed despite being present in Lahore will not be able to deliver Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid Qadsia, the JuD headquarters in Lahore.
Saeed was never stopped from delivering Friday sermons even during the years when Masjid Qadsia's control was under the Punjab government.
"As the Punjab police have sealed the Jamia Masjid Qadsia, Saeed will not be allowed to enter the premises to give his weekly sermon on Friday," a senior official of the Punjab government told PTI.
"Saeed requested the Punjab government to allow him give sermon on Friday at Qadsia Masjid but it was turned down. This is significant with regard to the 'clout' of Saeed as for the first time he is not being allowed by the government to give sermon on Friday," he added.
Pakistan authorities on Thursday sealed the Lahore headquarters of JuD and FIF and detained over 120 suspected terrorists as part of an ongoing crackdown on banned groups.
The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attack that killed 166 people. It had been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated its chief Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a $10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Meanwhile, in a significant development, the United Nations has rejected Saeed’s appeal to remove his name from its list of banned terrorists, government sources said on Thursday.
The development comes close on the heels of UN's 1267 Sanctions Committee receiving a new request to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar after the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Jaish, Pakistan-based banned terror outfit has claimed responsibility for the strike.
The UN decision to reject the appeal of Saeed, also a co-founder of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), came after India provided detailed evidence including "highly confidential information" about his activities, sources told PTI, adding that the verdict of the global body was conveyed to his lawyer Haider Rasul Mirza earlier this week.