- India - Mumbai attacks - Pakistan
AFP - Pakistan moved Thursday to shut down a charity widely viewed as a front for the banned Islamist group India blames for the Mumbai attacks, and ordered its leaders be placed under house arrest.
Police began closing the offices of Jamaat-ud-Dawa across the country on orders issued by the central government after the UN Security Council on Wednesday declared the charity a terrorist group.
"Instructions have been issued to seal Jamaat-ud-Dawa offices in all the four provinces as well as Azad Kashmir," said interior ministry spokesman Shahidullah Baig, referring to Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
The leader of the charity, who also founded the Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and eight other Jamaat-ud-Dawa members are to be placed under house arrest.
"The order has been issued to place Hafiz Saeed and eight other leaders of the group under house arrest," a central government official who did not want to be named told AFP. A senior police official also confirmed the order.
The assets of the charity and of the nine leaders will be frozen, the senior government official said, and their names will also be placed on the exit control list to prevent them from leaving the country.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa is one of Pakistan's biggest charities and is known across the country for its earthquake relief work.
It operates hospitals, schools and relief centres across Pakistan and was among the first to deliver aid to the victims of the huge 2005 earthquake in Kashmir.
But it is also widely viewed as the political wing of LeT, the Kashmiri militant group outlawed in Pakistan after India accused it of mounting an attack on its parliament in New Delhi in 2001.
That view was confirmed by the decision Wednesday of the UN Security Council to list Jamaat-ud-Dawa as one of a number of covers used by LeT, and categorise it as a terrorist organisation.
The United States already views the charity, 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 launched under intense international pressure.
The head of the group in Pakistani Kashmir, where Sunday's raid took place, said Wednesday the targeted camp housed a religious school and denied allegations it was also used as a terrorist training camp.
"Training camps are not located within the city limits," Abdul Aziz Alvi told journalists in the state capital Muzaffarabad, near the site of the camp. "Those arrested were teachers."