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Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Pakistan 'holds 71' over Mumbai

Taj Mahal hotel on fire - 27/11/2008
The attacks have strained relations between Islamabad and Delhi

Pakistan says it has so far arrested 71 people in a crackdown on groups allegedly linked to the Mumbai attacks.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik said officials had also shut several schools run by a charity linked to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.

Mr Malik said the moves showed Pakistan was serious about fighting extremism, but it needed more information from India to prosecute suspects in court.

India says the attacks were plotted in Pakistan. Islamabad denies any link.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated sharply since the November attacks which left at least 173 dead.

The Pakistani government is under intense international pressure to prosecute individuals with suspected links to the Mumbai (Bombay) attacks and punish them if found guilty.

India says Pakistan is failing to take action despite evidence of Lashkar's involvement in the attacks.

Militant camps

Mr Malik said the authorities had so far closed down 87 institutions - including seven madrassas (religious schools) - belonging to the banned Jamaat-ud-dawa Islamic charity. The organisation is widely seen as a political front for Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa relief operation

A number of publications and websites had also been blocked.

Mr Malik said eight of the charity's relief camps and five suspected training camps had been closed, although the government had not found evidence of militant activity at these sites.

"We have arrested a total [of] 124 mid-level and top leaders," he told a news conference in Islamabad.

However, his deputy, Kamal Shah, later clarified that the number arrested was actually 71. Mr Shah said 124 others were under surveillance and had to register their every move with police.

The camps closed down include the main Lashkar-e-Taiba base in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, which was shut in December.

The group's main commander, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who has been named in India as being linked to the Mumbai attacks, was one of those arrested at that time.

The arrests began in early December after the UN Security Council ruled that he and three other Lashkar-e-Taiba members should face sanctions for links with al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

They were issued with an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

The Security Council panel also said that the charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa was a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba and subject to sanctions.

'Onus on India'

The Pakistani government says that all those arrested are still in custody and all will be dealt with under the Pakistani criminal justice system rather than be deported to India.

Muslims protest in Mumbai
The Mumbai attacks have generated a lot of public anger in India

"We have done our best and the onus is now on India," Mr Malik said.

Mr Malik repeated Pakistani calls for a joint investigation, something India has rejected.

And he said a dossier of information received from Delhi last week needed further investigation to turn it into evidence that would stand up in court.

Mr Malik said that a committee had also been formed of high level police officials to monitor the activities of Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad says that doubts remain however over the effectiveness of Pakistan's crackdown, especially given Jamaat-ud-Dawa's growing role as a rich charity in an impoverished nation.

Our correspondent says that there is also concern that that the group's main centre of operations in Muridke outside Lahore remains open and many senior leaders remain operative.

Speaking in Mumbai, the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that the Pakistani authorities needed to show "more urgency" in taking action against those responsible for the attacks in the city.

"Pakistani authorities need to detain people and take further action like prosecution and action against them if found guilty," he said.

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Taipei Times Online India still wants Mumbai suspects extradited: official - 4 hrs ago
SABC Pakistan says 124 held in wake of Mumbai attack - 5 hrs ago
Gulf Daily News Pakistan vows terror clamp - 9 hrs ago
Arab News Miliband steps up pressure on Pakistan - 10 hrs ago
The Hindu The Lashkar-e-Taibas army in India - 10 hrs ago



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