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Pakistan cracks down on Jamaat ud-Dawa

It arrests dozens and shuts down camps run by the charity, which was formed by founders of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed in the Mumbai attacks. India is skeptical of the action.

January 16, 2009|Mubashir Zaidi and reporting from and Mark Magnier

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN, AND NEW DELHI — A senior Pakistani official said Thursday that Islamabad has tightened the screws on Jamaat ud-Dawa, a charity created by the founders of the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India has accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad that his government had shut down five training camps run by Jamaat ud-Dawa in Punjab province and the Pakistani-administered portion of Kashmir.

The authorities also banned several publications by militant groups, shut down their websites and ordered a crackdown on offices, religious schools and libraries. More than 124 leaders and activists were detained last month, he said, after a United Nations resolution that declared Jamaat ud-Dawa a terrorist organization.

Malik declined to say, however, whether Pakistan would concede that the attacks in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people in late November, were hatched on Pakistani soil, as India claims.

The response from the Indian side was decidedly cool. "Pakistan Double Talk Again," blared a caption on the 24-hour news channel CNN-IBN during the live broadcast of Malik's comments.

"This is what Pakistan's done for a long time," said Suba Chandran, assistant director of New Delhi's Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. "The arrests are always challenged in the court of law of Pakistan and they're released in a week or 10 days. And most of the schools are asked to close, then reopen in a day or two."

On Thursday, Indian Gen. Deepak Kapoor said the Mumbai attacks were a test of India's patience. Speaking at an Army Day parade, he added that India wanted to resolve the diplomatic standoff through peaceful means but reserved the right to use "all possible available options."

Malik told reporters that he appreciated Indian efforts to provide information but said Pakistani investigators needed to probe further so the evidence would hold up in court. He said Islamabad was serious about fighting terrorism and expressed hope that the attackers would not succeed in driving a wedge between India and Pakistan.

It's less about wedges than different standards, said Chandran.

"There's a basic difference between what India sees as evidence and what Pakistan sees as evidence," he said.

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mark.magnier@latimes.com

Zaidi is a special correspondent.

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