Pakistan shut offices and arrested scores of activists of an Islamic charity as international pressure mounted for firm action against militants blamed for the Mumbai attacks, officials said on Friday.
The overnight raids followed Pakistan announcing it would abide by a UN decision placing Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba militant group, on its terrorism sanctions list of people and organisations linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Saeed, who founded Lashkar in 1990 and officially left it in 2001 just days before Pakistan banned it, has been put under house arrest, according to one of his spokesmen.
Three associates were also added to the UN list and will be subject to sanctions freezing assets and restricting travel, but a Pakistani television news channel reported one of them is dead and another has been in a Saudi jail for the past three years.
Geo News said Haji Muhammad Ashraf, Lashkar’s finance chief, died in a hospital in southern city of Hyderabad in June 2002.
The report said Ashraf, 70, was arrested twice, once in
connection with a car bomb outside the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi which killed 14 people, including 11 French engineers.
Geo also quoted an unnamed Jamaat leader as saying Haji Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahazaiq, described as a financier, has been in a Saudi jail for the past three years.
An intelligence official said that Masood Azhar, head of the Jaish-e-Mohammad group blamed with Lashkar for a 2001 attack on India’s parliament, was also detained.
One close aide of Azhar’s said: “I think they could have detained him to relieve pressure, but I don’t know the exact whereabouts of the Maulana.”
In Pakistani Kashmir’s capital Muzaffarabad, police raided Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity regarded as a Lashkar front.
“On the orders of the Interior Ministry, we have sealed their main office and all their assets including two schools and a
religious seminary and placed its regional head under house arrest,” said Chaudhry Imtiaz, a top administration official.
Police raided JuD offices elsewhere in Pakistani Kashmir, as well as in several cities including Multan, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta. A Jamaat spokesman said 100 workers were arrested in North West Frontier Province alone.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s headquarters in the eastern town of Muridke appeared deserted. Officials said the office, schools and hospitals it ran there had shut on December 4.