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71 members of banned groups detained: Pakistan

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | January 15, 2009 18:18 IST

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Complete coverage: War on Mumbai
Pakistan on Thursday said it had detained 71 members of outlawed militant groups and put under surveillance 124 others, besides shutting down five "training camps" of Jamaat-ud-Dawah and banning its websites, in the wake of the Mumbai [Images] attacks.

Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said a special investigation team headed by the additional director general of the federal investigation agency is being set up to examine "without any prejudice" all aspects of the Mumbai attacks and the information provided by India.

The team will include two other officers with counter-terrorism experience.

Giving details of Pakistan's investigation in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, Malik said 71 members of banned militant groups had been detained so far.

Among them are leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawah and Lashker-e-Toiba, including Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the founder of both groups, Mufti Abdur Rehman, Col (retd) Nazir Ahmed, Ameer Hamza and LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

Significantly, Malik did not say whether any legal proceedings had been initiated against the detained persons.

Authorities had shut down eight relief camps and five training camps run by JuD in Punjab province and PoK. Though no evidence was found in these facilities, there were "traces" that 5 of them were being used as "training camps", he said.

Six publications of JuD, including the weekly 'Ghazwa', and the group's websites too had been banned, he said.

Malik said that 124 members of banned groups had also been placed under surveillance for the past six months under the provisions of anti-terror laws.

Asked whether the information given by India on the Mumbai attacks constituted evidence, he replied: "We are accepting that information, and we have formed an investigation team with a view to reach the culprits."

The perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks cannot be nabbed without evidence developed from "basic leads" and Pakistani investigators should thus be given access by India, Malik said.

"This is the time that Pakistan and India need to stick together," he said. "We'll be needing more information.," he said.

Asked when a Pakistani team would be sent to India, he said this would be done whenever the "Indian interior minister is ready to accept" such a delegation. "And I will be ready to accept their people at any time," he added.

Pakistan is "fully convinced...that it is our duty as a responsible nation to get to these militant groups so that such an incident does not happen in future anywhere in the world," Malik said.

"Pakistan is suffering at hands of militants. If they have done the same in India, it's worrying for us. That's why we are doing the inquiry and will bring them to justice."

Pakistan had also taken action against the JuD because of the listing of the group as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations Security Council, irrespective of whether there is evidence against it, Malik said.

The country's investigation will ascertain "how far and at what level" the JuD is involved in terrorist activities, he said.

"We share the agony of India, this is the time to show solidarity with them. There is no doubt about it that this incident had happened where Pakistani non-state actors were blamed. It was our duty to extend full cooperation to the Indian and the international community," Malik said.

However, he evaded questions on whether Pakistan will seek consular access to Ajmal Amir Iman Kasab [Images], the lone terrorist arrested during the Mumbai attacks, and whether any evidence had been found linking the JuD to the terrorist incident in India's financial hub.




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