Sunday, December 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India





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Masood Azhar freed

Islamabad, December 14
In a significant development, Pakistanís Lahore High Court today set free from house arrest, Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of the banned Islamic outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammad, involved in the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament.

Azhar, the terrorist released by India to end the hijack episode in Kandahar in 1999, was ordered to be released by the Review Board of the court despite reservations of the security officials.

The officials felt that his release could have an adverse impact on the law and order situation in the country, the official APP news agency reported today.

Azharís release from preventive detention followed the recent release of Hafeez Mushammad Saeed, the founder leader of the another Islamic outfit, Lashkar-e-Toiba, on the similar orders by the same court.

Saeedís release has been criticised by India and the Bush administration. Both Jaish and Lashkar, which were accused by India for taking part in the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament, were banned by President Pervez Musharraf in February this year. Besides accusing Azhar and Saeed of playing a major role in the Parliament attack, India also demanded their extradition to face trial.

Both of them had been taken into preventive detention immediately after the Parliament attack and their detention was periodically extended. Subsequently, they were shifted from the prisons and placed under house arrest.

Before his release, Azhar was brought from his house in Bahawalpur under heavy security and produced before the Review Board. PTI
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