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Pakistan Cracks Down on Islamic Charity as Mumbai Probe Grows

BY Admin  December 12, 2008 at 12:45 PM EDT

Pakistani police officers; AP Photo

On Thursday, Pakistani officials began raiding the offices and freezing the assets of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an Islamic charity organization based in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, suspected to be a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. Two leaders were placed under house arrest.

One of those leaders, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the reported founder of Lashkar, officially left the now-banned group in 2001, according to the Associated Press. Lashkar is believed to have had past ties to al-Qaida, but its recent association is considered tenuous.

The overnight raids came after a U.N. decision to place Saeed on its terrorism sanctions list of people and organizations linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban. The United Nation also has put Jamaat-ud-Dawa on its terrorist list.

Another leader of the group, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, was arrested earlier in the week and is suspected of having masterminded last month’s attacks in Mumbai that left more than 170 people dead.

Indian leaders are calling for more aggressive action by the Pakistani government, claiming that Pakistani officials have relaxed penalties on terrorist suspects in the past.

“We have noted the reported steps taken by Pakistan, but clearly much more needs to be done,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in an address to Parliament Thursday night, according to the New York Times.

Singh also expressed the need for India’s allies to help put pressure on the Pakistani government. “The political will of the international community must translate into concrete and sustained action on the ground,” he said.

Pakistani officials, however, say India’s unwillingness to share intelligence information makes it difficult for them to take further action.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Friday in a televised statement that Pakistani territory should not be used to aid terrorism. “However, our own investigations cannot proceed beyond a certain point without provision of credible information and evidence pertaining to Mumbai attacks,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

Just after the late-November attacks, in which 10 armed gunmen launched a three-day siege on India’s financial capital of Mumbai, the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari blamed “non-state” perpetrators for carrying out the attacks and said the Pakistani government had no control over their actions.

Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee blasted Zardari’s position on the matter, asking, “Are they non-state actors coming from heaven, or are they coming from a different planet?” according to the Times.

“Non-state actors are operating from a particular country. What we are most respectfully submitting, suggesting to the government of Pakistan: Please act,” Mukherjee said. “Mere expression of intention is not adequate.”

Despite anger among the Indian public over government inaction on the Mumbai siege, the Indian government is not planning use of military force. “We shall have to patiently confront it,” Mukherjee said, adding that war was “no solution.”

“We have no intention to be provoked,” he added.

The Indian government risks losing the support of powerful allies such as the United States if it engages in a military confrontation with long-time foe Pakistan over fears that Islamabad would divert troops from its volatile western border with Afghanistan, where they are working to help root out militant elements.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte met with Pakistani political leaders and the army chief this week before going to New Delhi to meet with Mukherjee and national security adviser M.K. Narayanan on Friday.

“We’re cooperating in this effort, obviously the government of India is in the lead, but all of our diplomatic partners have a responsibility to contribute to this effort,” Negroponte said in a statement in New Delhi, according to the AP.