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India, Pakistan Consider Action Against Charity Group Linked to Mumbai Attack

India's government is expressing optimism that the United Nations will respond favorably to its request to outlaw a Pakistani group linked to the recent terror attack on Mumbai.  Meanwhile, Pakistan's prime minister says that connection needs to be looked into before Islamabad can take action against the Islamic charity.

Indian officials say the ball is now in the court of the international community, to take action against the organization it believes is the front for the Laskhar-e-Taiba terror outfit.
 
India accuses Lashkar of plotting the assault on its commercial capital, which killed about 170 people, including nine of the attackers.  It has formally asked the United Nations Security Council to ban the Pakistan-based charity, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and declare it a terrorist organization.  India contends Jamaat is the parent body of the terror group known for fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region.  

Charity group linked to Mumbai terrorists

Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, speaking to reporters in New Delhi, says the charity is clearly linked to the terrorist group, which is also blamed for previous attacks in India.

"We think the perpetrators of the attack on Mumbai were Lashkar-e-Taiba people and it was organized by them.  Let's see what the international community does.  We hope that they will respond positively to our request," said Menon.

After Pakistan banned Lashkar in 2002, Jamaat came to the forefront as the group's political and charitable wing.  It denies any role in carrying out terrorist attacks. 

Pakistan calls for investigation

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani - responding to the Indian request to ban Jamaat - says there must be an investigation before such action can be taken.

"I want to put the record straight," he said.

The Pakistani prime minister, speaking to reporters in Multan, denies his government is under any pressure from India to shut down Jamaat.  He says any action taken by Pakistan will be in the interest of the country and its people.  He adds Pakistan will investigate any findings sent to Islamabad by Indian intelligence agencies.

Mr. Gilani did confirm the arrest of two senior members of L-e-T, as suspects in the conspiracy behind the Mumbai attack. 

International pressure mounts for action against terror group

In the past week, both India and the United States have been calling for Pakistan's government to take concrete action to identify and arrest those responsible for the siege on Mumbai.

India says 10 Pakistani gunmen, trained by the terror group, carried out the attack which lasted 60 hours.  Most of those who died were gunned down at two luxury hotels, a Jewish community center, a train station and a cafe.  

India has insisted that those arrested in Pakistan for involvement in the terrorist strike be put on trial here. But Islamabad says any such legal proceedings would have to take place in Pakistan.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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