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October 7, 2001
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Pakistan gives another blow to Taleban

K J M Varma in Islamabad

In the first major crackdown on the Taleban and its supporters, Pakistan on Sunday froze 146 bank accounts belonging to the leaders of the militia and put under house arrest leader of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-Islami, Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Rehman has been at the forefront in organising anti-America rallies in the country.

Among those whose accounts were frozen included Taleban Foreign Minister Abdul Wakil Muttawakil, Defence Minister Ubaidullah Akund, Supreme Court Chief Justice Noor Mohammad Saqib and their ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef.

According to the Dawn newspaper, 87 Taleban ministers and governors were among those whose accounts were sealed.

Pakistan, which has offered its 'unstinted support' to America's fight against terrorism, took the step in line with the UN resolutions.

The resolutions in 1999 and 2000 called for a freezing of bank accounts and assets of 146 Taleban officials, 10 Arabs including Laden, and three Afghan entities, the daily said.

The three business entities whose accounts have been frozen are Ariana Afghan Airlines, Da Afghanistan Bank and Da Afghanistan Momtaz Bank.

Quoting a senior banker in Peshawar, the daily said, "The bank accounts of the Taleban and Arabs -- wanted by the US -- have been frozen."

In another development, the JUI chief was put under house arrest for an indefinite period in Dera Ismail Khan in North West Frontier Province, hours before he was to lead an anti-US rally.

Police and paramilitary troops were stationed at Rehman's house.

The move came after his pro-Taleban pronouncements at a public meeting on Saturday in Peshawar where he asked his supporters to attack any US military plane found on Pakistani soil.

"If you see an American military plane on Pakistani soil, destroy it," Rehman reportedly told the demonstrators.

He denounced plans to bring back exiled Afghan king Mohammad Zahir Shah, saying any transitional administration in Kabul was bound to fail.

The police has registered cases against Rehman and other JUI leaders for inciting people against the government.

Undeterred by his arrest, some 6,000 people shouting 'Death to America' took to the streets in Multan.

The crowd gathered at the main shopping area ahead of an anti-US rally planned by the JUI.

Chanting 'Long Live Taleban' and 'War against America will continue until its destruction', the participants later gathered at a public park about one kilometre away.

PTI

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