Reuters : Pakistan acts against one of India's most-wanted

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pakistan acts against one of India's most-wanted

By Krittivas Mukherjee and C. Bryson Hull | December 11, 2008

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Pakistan put the founder of a militant group blamed for the Mumbai attacks under house arrest on Thursday, responding to intense pressure to wipe out what India called "the epicenter of terrorism."

The detention of Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group who now runs the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity seen as its front, came after the United Nations placed him on its terrorism sanctions list.

"Police have encircled the house of Hafiz Saeed in Lahore and told him he cannot go out of the home. They have told him detention orders will be formally served to him shortly," Saeed's spokesman Abdullah Montazir said.

India blames LeT for the Mumbai attacks which killed 179 people last month and also for earlier ones, including a 2001 assault on parliament that nearly thrust the nuclear-armed south Asian rivals into their fourth war since independence from Britain in 1947.

A spokesman for Pakistan's central bank said directives had been issued to banks to freeze the accounts of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Saeed and three associates included in the U.N. sanctions, which also impose a travel ban on the blacklisted individuals.

Police in Karachi and Hyderabad sealed the offices of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Television reports said the charity would be banned though no official announcement had yet been made as yet.

But Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking to parliament before the lower house passed a largely symbolic resolution condemning the attacks and pledging to find those responsible, said Pakistan's efforts had not been enough.

"We have to galvanize the international community into dealing sternly and effectively with the epicenter of terrorism, which is located in Pakistan. The infrastructure of terrorism has to be dismantled permanently," he said in comments that preceded Saeed's house arrest.


Singh said he had told world leaders that India "could not be satisfied with mere assurances."

"We have noted the reported steps that have been taken by Pakistan. But clearly much more needs to be done and the actions should be pursued to their logical conclusion," he said,

He also reiterated that "all means and measures" needed to wipe out militants would be used.

India has been angry at what it sees as the Pakistani government's tolerance of militants, and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee earlier on Thursday said India had given Pakistan a list of 40 people it wants handed over.

Asked by an angry lawmaker why India was not attacking Pakistan after so much proof of its complicity in fomenting trouble in India, Mukherjee replied: "That is no solution."

Indian officials had previously demanded that Pakistan hand over 20 suspected militants and others it wants for past attacks.

Keeping up the pressure on Pakistan, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived in Islamabad on Thursday to follow up visits by his boss, Condoleezza Rice, to India and Pakistan last week.

Washington has engaged in intensive diplomacy to stop tensions from mounting between Pakistan and India, and to keep Islamabad focused on fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Global pressure has seen Pakistan raid several Islamist militant training camps and detain or arrest some of the militant leaders India wants extradited.

Pakistani security forces have arrested around 20 militants in raids, an intelligence official told Reuters on Thursday.

Analysts say Pakistani intelligence has ties to some of those India wants, and that its civilian government risks political fallout if it acts against them.

Saeed led the LeT militant group until December 2001, when he quit a few days before Pakistan complied with a U.S. move to put the group on a list of individuals and organizations with links to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Saeed, one of the most wanted men in India, has since headed Jamaat-ud-Dawa.