26/11 case: Pak unlikely to defend Saeed in US court

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Jan 13 (PTI) Pakistan today skirted the issueof defending JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed in a US lawsuitfiled by relatives of two American Jews killed in the Mumbaiattacks, saying it would only protect the interests of ISIofficials who had been named in the case.

Pakistan''s decision to defend ISI officials in thelawsuit in a Brooklyn court does not apply to "non-officials,"Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly briefing.

Basit was responding to a question on Saeed''s demandthat the government should appoint a counsel to defend him inthe US court as he is a Pakistani national and no terrorcharges had been proved against him.

"Pakistan will defend its officials. So, here we aretalking about officials. As far as defending non-officials isconcerned, I would not be in a position to answer yourquestion," Basit said.

"I understand that (Saeed) has perhaps referred thematter to some court. I would not know the details of that.

But here we are talking about officials," he said.

Basit said he did not know whether the US lawsuit hadfigured in discussions yesterday between visiting VicePresident Joe Biden and senior Pakistani leaders.

Saeed, the founder of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba,yesterday filed a petition in the Lahore High Court asking itto direct the federal government to defend him in the USlawsuit.

He noted in his petition that the federal governmenthas announced it will defend ISI officials in the US lawsuitand said he had the "Constitutional right" to seek similarlegal aid.

The court in Brooklyn has summoned current ISI chiefLt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha and his predecessor Nadeem Taj andLashker-e-Taiba leaders, including Saeed, to appear before itin connection with the suit filed by relatives of RabbiGavriel Holtzberg and his wife, who were among the 166 peoplekilled during the Mumbai attacks.

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