Islamabad, Aug. 3: Even out of power, Pervez Musharraf has sprung a Kargil on India.
Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, among Indias most wanted who headed the Lashkar-e-Toiba before moving to its charity front, has earned a reprieve, courtesy the former Pakistan President, with the countrys Supreme Court indefinitely adjourning the hearing of two petitions challenging the terror masterminds release from detention.
A three-judge bench, headed by chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, said they would fix (a) new date in office after attorney-general Latif Khosa declared it was difficult to pursue the matter in the absence of advocate-general of Punjab province Raza Farooq, who had to resign recently after a 2007 Musharraf order on judicial appointments was scrapped by the apex court.
Todays ruling comes days after India handed over a fresh dossier of evidence to Pakistan on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and Saeeds role as mastermind.
Saeed, who now heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, was freed in June by Lahore High Court for want of evidence, but the central government as well as the one in Punjab has appealed against the order.
Saeed will continue as a free man. He can move about and do whatever he likes, said A.K. Dogar, lawyer of the Jamaat leader.
New Delhi, which has agreed to resume dialogue with Islamabad, said its patience was being tested by the Pakistani process. India has provided all the evidence through our dossiers.... We have provided dossiers on March 5 and 13, May 20, June 9 and August 1 and I dont know what more do they want, foreign minister S.M. Krishna said in Delhi.
Whatever we have provided, according to our assessment, that is evidence enough to punish them and Saeed is one of those who is the main brain behind the attacks, he said.
But the delay that has extended Saeeds free run can be blamed on Musharraf, who as Pakistan army chief was the architect of the Kargil incursions that took India by surprise and paved the way for years of distrust.
Farooqs resignation as Punjab advocate-general, which led to todays ruling, was necessitated by the Supreme Court verdict last week which declared as illegal and unconstitutional Musharrafs imposition of emergency rule on November 3, 2007, and proclamation of the Provisional Constitution Order.
According to Pakistans constitution, only a person over 45 years of age is eligible for appointment as advocate-general, but under Musharrafs order, the cap was reduced to 40.
With the apex court scrapping Musharrafs order, the original age limit stands restored and this forced Farooq, who was then 42, to resign from office.
Legal experts contended the adjournment was, therefore, a matter of procedure. The legal process is already under way and there is no intention on part of the state to delay the case, former deputy attorney-general Raja Abdur Rehman said.
He said the indefinite adjournment did not mean it would take months to resume the hearing, adding that the court could take up the case again in a week or 10 days.
A legal expert in India pointed out that such delays were common everywhere. The Bombay blasts trial took almost 13 years to be complete. Delays are part of the legal system, said the expert.