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Hafiz Saeed's lawyer dreams of visiting the Taj Mahal

October 20, 2009 16:25 IST

The man who has defended Jamaat-ud-Daawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, in Pakistani courts often thinks of visiting his birthplace in India but is apprehensive about the hostility he might face on any trip across the border.

A K Dogar-- Hafiz Saeed's lawyer– is eager to visit his birthplace, Hoshiarpur in India's Punjab state and wants to take his grandchildren to the Taj Mahal in Agra. But he fears that even if the Indian government gives him a visa, he may face hostility in the neighbouring country because he is the lawyer of a man many Indians hate.

Dogar said he had "no immediate plans" to visit India though it was his "strongest desire" to do so at some point of time."In fact, I am waiting for an improvement in relations between India and Pakistan. Once the relations are normalised, then certainly I will have no such apprehensions," he told PTI.

"I would be willing to visit India tomorrow because of my nostalgic feelings if it could be guaranteed that I will get a visa without any hassle and nobody there will hurt me and my accompanying family members," Dogar said. He said he still believes that the people of both countries have great potential to progress and this would be possible only if they live in peace like good neighbours.

"We have a similar culture, the same colour and more or less the same language. Over what we are fighting then?" Dogar asked. His stance is in marked contrast to the views of his client Saeed, also the founder of the Lashker-e-Taiba, who has often urged his followers to "destroy India".

When Dogar's attention was drawn to the fact that he represented a man blamed for hostile relations between the two countries, he said: "Yes, I am Saeed's advocate. But this is immaterial. What matters more is evidence, which neither the Indian nor the Pakistani government has against (Saeed). It will remain easy to defend a man who is merely implicated in a case."

Dogar was a 12-year-old student in Class VII when his family entered Pakistan from the Jhang border at the time of partition in 1947 and settled in Sargodha before moving to Lahore. "I was born in Hoshiarpur in East Punjab. I was four when my father got me admitted in a school in Rampur state. What a state it was. Every child of it was a poet. There was a sugar factory owned by the Gowan Brothers near my school. I just want to be there again. I have memories of my childhood there," he reminisced.

"I cannot forget the train journeys and the sound of a special kind of the trains, which still rings in my ears. I wish I would experience the same again before my last breath," Dogar wished.

Saeed was put under house arrest in December 2008 after the UN Security Council declared the JuD a terrorist group. He was freed on the orders of the Lahore High Court after Dogar successfully defended him. Dogar also represented Saeed in the Lahore High Court recently after police in Faisalabad town registered two cases against the JuD chief under an anti-terror law. Following the hearing, the court ordered police to quash both cases.

M Zulqernain in Lahore
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