124 held in massive crackdown: Five camps and 20 offices of Dawa, LeT closed; publications and websites banned
ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: The government said on Thursday that it had shut down five training camps of the outlawed Jamaatud Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba, banned their seven publications and blocked all their websites.
The authorities have detained 124 people, several leaders and officials of the organisations among them.
Addressing a news conference, the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Interior Affairs, Mr Rehman Malik, assured India that Pakistan would do its utmost to bring the people involved in the Mumbai attacks to justice.
Unveiling details of a massive crackdown, Mr Malik said that training camps had been closed down in Punjab and Azad Kashmir.
Assuring India that sincere efforts were being made to take all non-state actors involved in the attacks to the task, he urged New Delhi to provide access to Pakistani investigators to the scenes of the crimes and jointly investigate the incident so that all those involved could be brought to justice.
He announced formation of a special investigation team headed by an additional director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to examine, “without any prejudice”, all aspects of the Mumbai attacks and the information provided by India. The team will include two officers with counter-terrorism experience.
“Information has been provided by India and we have formed an investigation team to reach the culprits,” he said.
He said the members of the banned organisations who had been detained included their founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba ‘operations commander’ Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Mufti Abdur Rehman, Col (retd) Nazir Ahmed and Ameer Hamza.
“We have arrested a total of 124 mid-level and top leaders of JuD in response to a UN resolution — 69 from Punjab, 21 from Sindh, eight from Balochistan and 25 from the NWFP — blocked six websites associated with the organisation and closed down its five relief camps,” the adviser said.
He said 20 offices, 87 schools, two libraries, seven seminaries and a handful of other organisations and websites linked to Jamaatud Dawa had also been shut.
He said the authorities had closed several relief camps of the organisation after the UN Security Council had passed the resolution.
The publications banned are Mujalatud Dawa, Zarb-i-Taiba, Voice of Islam, Nanhay Mujahid, Ghazwa and Al Rabta.
Mr Malik did not say whether any legal proceedings had been initiated against the detained people.
However, sources told Dawn that the government was considering to hold trial of at least three leaders of the banned groups wanted by India.
The adviser urged India to allow Pakistani investigation officials to visit the country.
“In all such cases the scene of the crime is the starting point from where the investigation is initiated and leads to the culprits behind the crimes are always found from there,” he said.
Mr Malik said the operation against suspects had been launched soon after the Mumbai attacks and the government had responded immediately to the UN resolution by banning Jamaatud Dawa.
“India should wait for the results of the investigation. It will reveal all hidden truths. Pakistan and India need to sit together against their common enemy — terrorists,” he said.
“We have to prove to the world that India and Pakistan stand together against terrorists,” he said.
He reiterated that Pakistan had nothing to do with the attacks. “We condemned the incident on all platforms. Pakistan is also suffering at the hands of militants and that is worrying us.”
Responding to a question, he said a joint investigation would “bring quick results”.
He said India had handed over information comprising 19 pages. “We have to inquire into this information to try to transform it into evidence which can stand the test of any court in the world and, of course, our own court of law.”
Mr Malik ruled out handing over any Pakistani suspect to India. He said Pakistani laws allowed for prosecution of citizens who might have committed crimes elsewhere.
He said results of the investigation being conducted by the FIA would be made public and nothing would be concealed.
Referring to a claim by India that an insurgency there was being backed from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the adviser said Pakistan was facing the same problem and about 600 Afghan Taliban had attacked Mohmand guards a couple of days ago.
“This is the time when India and Pakistan should work together to defeat militancy. It is our duty to cooperate with India, because non-state actors from Pakistan might have been involved in Mumbai attacks,” he said.