A Pakistani court on Wednesday ordered the release from house arrest of Hafiz Saeed, a notorious jihadi with a $10m US bounty on his head. The move was seen as part of a military campaign to bully the civilian government. Mr Saeed, who was detained nine months ago, allegedly masterminded the 2008 Mumbai massacre in which 166 people were killed. The court rejected a request by the government to extend his arrest, citing a lack of evidence. On Friday, Mr Saeed is expected to walk free. When at liberty, his ability to travel the country and hold large, blood-and-thunder rallies has exasperated allies who believe Pakistan is too soft on terrorism. Mr Saeed held a major rally in Rawalpindi, right next to army headquarters, in 2016, and was present at long series of rallies in 2011. Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity led by Mr Saeed which the UN considers a front for terrorism, told the Telegraph it was a triumph for their cause. “This is a victory for the people of Pakistan who support Hafiz Saeed and the Kashmir struggle,” a spokesman said. Close relations with Pakistan’s army have historically helped to shield Mr Saeed. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant organisation he founded in the 1980s, has never carried out an attack in the country, focusing instead on India, Kashmir and Afghanistan. The release comes at a feverish, rumour-filled moment in Pakistani politics. In October, the army confirmed plans to “mainstream” extremist groups by encouraging them to enter politics. Two new parties have sprung up recently. One, the Mili Muslim League, considers Mr Saeed its leader. Activists from the other, the Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan, have blockaded Islamabad’s main motorway for a fortnight - a brazen act many believe would be impossible without at least tacit support from the army. Mr Saeed’s release is “going to give a signal [to Mr Saeed's party] that ‘you’re guy has been freed’... now put your faith in winning, do more campaigning,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, a defence analyst. This, Ms Siddiqa added, will eat into the votes of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in a 2018 election. Under the leadership of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was deposed over the summer in a much criticised ruling by the Supreme Court, the party had threatened military dominance of Pakistan. The justification for the 67-year-old’s original arrest was opaque. Some believe it was connected to an investigation, now finished, into Pakistan’s compliance with anti-terrorism financing regulations. Trials against Mr Saeed and his alleged accomplices have collapsed in the past for lack of evidence. However, a US-born member of LeT was sentenced to 35 years in American prison for his role in the Mumbai massacre, during which a team of gunmen attacked a railway-station, several hotels and a Jewish cafe over three days.