- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | Pakistan said Thursday it had shut down extremist Web sites and suspected militant training camps, and detained 71 people in a deepening probe into groups suspected to be behind the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Islamabad is under pressure to clamp down on Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group that India blames for killing more than 170 people in the siege of its commercial capital.

Days after the November attacks, the U.N. Security Council declared that Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity in Pakistan, was merely a front for the outlawed militant organization.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said 71 leaders of the groups had been arrested since then and that another 124 had been placed under surveillance and must register their every move with police.

Rehman Malik, the ministry’s top official, said authorities also had closed 20 offices, 94 schools, two libraries and six Web sites linked to the charity. He said authorities had shut more than a dozen relief camps of the charity, some of which are claimed to be militant training grounds.

Among those detained was Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, along with Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, who India says planned the Mumbai attacks.

Mr. Malik repeated Islamabad’s call for a joint investigation into the attacks and urged India to hand over more information to assist Pakistan’s own probe.

“We are fully committed to help India in this investigation,” he said at a news conference. “We have to prove to the world that India and Pakistan stand together against the terrorists because they are the common enemies.”

On Jan. 5, India handed Pakistan a dossier of evidence including information on interrogations, weapons and data gleaned from satellite phones used by the attackers.

India said the material proved Pakistan-based militants plotted and executed the attacks and it has repeatedly insinuated that Pakistani intelligence agents were involved.

Pakistan denies that, though it has conceded that the one Mumbai gunman captured alive is a Pakistani and appears ready to accept that elements from within its borders were involved.

Mr. Malik said Pakistani detectives would “inquire into” the information provided by India “to try to transform it to evidence, evidence which can stand the test of any court in the world and of course our own court of law.”

Pakistan has used Lashkar-e-Taiba in the past as a proxy force against India in the struggle over the divided Kashmir region. Washington says the group has developed ties to al Qaeda, thus the West wants Pakistan to demonstrate that it has turned decisively against Islamic militancy.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in Mumbai on Thursday that Pakistan, a front-line ally also against the al Qaeda and the Taliban, must show “zero tolerance” for all terrorist networks on its soil. Mr. Miliband plans to visit Pakistan in the coming days.

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