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Pakistan Cracks Down On Charity Placed On UN Terror List

Students at the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity school in Muridke
(RFE/RL) -- Things moved swiftly after a UN panel ruled that Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a well-known Pakistan-based charity, was a front organization for the terror group accused of carrying out the attacks in Mumbai.

A day after the Security Council panel added the charity to its terrorist list alongside its former armed wing, Lashkar-e-Taiba, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte met with senior Pakistani leaders and reportedly urged them to take swift action.

Hours after that meeting, Islamabad did just that -- sealing the offices of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and placing its leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and others under house arrest.

Pakistan's foreign minister announced the action late on December 11, saying Islamabad was obligated to comply with the Security Council decision declaring the charity a terrorist organization and to place sanctions on four individuals associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba.

"The government of Pakistan," Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, "has initiated the process to comply with the listing of Jamaat-ud-Dawa and certain other trusts, as well as individuals, by the Sanctions Committee."

However, Qureshi asked India -- which earlier this week requested that the Security Council panel rule on the charity and the individuals -- to share information and evidence so his country can put the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks on trial.

Following the November 26-29 attacks in Mumbai that killed 171 people, India pointed the finger squarely at Lashkar-e-Taiba. As a result of the Indian request, the UN panel slapped asset freezes on Saeed and three alleged leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba. An arms embargo was imposed on Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

'Doesn't Prove Anything'

In the aftermath of the December 10 ruling, Saeed remained defiant. He stressed that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was a legitimate organization that had in 2002 publicly denounced its ties to Lashkar-e-Taiba, which he himself founded in the late 1980s.

And just hours before his detention, he told journalists in the eastern city of Lahore that he and his charity were prepared to face any charges in any court.

"If they have any evidence against Jamaat-ud-Dawa, they should submit it to a court. You cannot prove anything through media campaigns, all evidence should be given to courts," Saeed said.

"When the U.S. imposed sanctions on Jamaat-ud-Dawa, we wrote to the State Department," he added. "They acknowledged receiving our letter but did nothing [to address our concerns]."

In addition to Saeed, other senior Jamaat-ud-Dawa leaders have reportedly been placed under house arrest. The charity's offices across Pakistan and the Pakistani-administered Kashmir region were padlocked.

Some reports suggest dozens of the organization's members have been arrested. And the charity's assets have been ordered frozen by Pakistan's central bank.

The moves are being closely watched across the border in India. While addressing parliament on December 11, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the international community to ensure that Pakistan's antiterrorism efforts result in the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure on its soil.

"The world community must be convinced that action by Pakistan against the brutal perpetrators of these crimes against humanity will be effective and will be sustained over time," Singh said.

Analysts in Islamabad note that following the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament by alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba militants, Pakistan took similar measures.

Saeed and other jihadi leaders were among those placed under house arrest. But they were all released and their groups allowed to resume its activities once the international focus and Indian pressure subsided.

Regional experts maintain that the key thing to look for will be whether Pakistan is able to shut down such organizations' ties to jihadist movements completely.