Pakistan turns screw on charity in question
Pakistan yesterday tightened the screw on an Islamic charity linked to militants behind the Mumbai massacre, arresting dozens of members and placing a local leader under house arrest.
Amid intense international pressure to crack down on militant organisations on its soil in the wake of last month's deadly attacks, Islamabad has stepped up its actions against Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
Pakistan Thursday ordered the assets of the charity frozen after it was listed by the United Nations as a terror group in the wake of the attacks, which left 172 people dead, including nine gunmen.
Police in Pakistani Kashmir, where the charity is particularly active, said Friday its local leader was now under house arrest and four workers had been detained.
In southern Sindh province authorities have arrested more than 40 people and sealed more than 30 offices and four hospitals belonging to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, provincial home secretary Arif Ahmed Khan said.
A spokesman for the charity in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province told AFP that authorities there had arrested 150 people linked to the organisation and closed 42 offices in recent days.
"We have arrested four Jamaat-ud-Dawa members and put their leader under house arrest," Chaudhry Imtiaz, deputy commissioner of Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
"We have also sealed an office, a motor workshop and two schools belonging to the charity," he said.
Hundreds of people rallied outside the UN office in Pakistani Kashmir Friday, chanting anti-US and anti-Indian slogans to protest against its closure.
Speaking to AFP by telephone from his home, the leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa in Pakistani Kashmir, Maulana Abdul Aziz Alvi, condemned the move.
"We regret it, we condemn what our government is doing under American pressure," Alvi said.
The head of the charity, Hafiz Saeed, who also founded the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the Mumbai attacks, was Thursday placed under house arrest and orders were given for eight other leaders to also be restricted to their homes.
The strikes on Mumbai have severely strained relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours but India, which has fought three wars with Pakistan since independence from Britain, has ruled out military action.
One of Pakistan's biggest charities, Jamaat-ud-Dawa is known across the country for its earthquake relief work.
But it is also widely viewed as the political wing of LeT, outlawed in Pakistan after India accused it of mounting an attack on its parliament in New Delhi in 2001.
Before he was placed under house arrest, Saeed denounced the UN decision, saying Jamaat-ud-Dawa was a legitimate organisation with no links to terrorism.
Meanwhile, the sole surviving gunman from the attacks, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman, is in custody where he faces charges including "making war against the country" and murder, according to Mumbai police.
Iman, identified by Indian authorities as a Pakistani national, was one of 10 heavily armed Islamist militants who attacked targets across India's business capital.
The United States views Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which operates out of a sprawling headquarters near the city of Lahore, as a terrorist group.
On Sunday, Pakistani troops raided a camp operated by the charity in Kashmir and arrested 15 people, kicking off a military crackdown on militants in the country.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said authorities have arrested two senior LeT members -- Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, both named in India as suspected planners of the Mumbai attacks.