In a crackdown on Jamaat-ud-Dawah, Pakistan tonight banned the front organisation of Lashker-e-Taiba blamed for Mumbai terror attacks, put its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed under house arrest and sealed offices of the group after it was declared a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council.
Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters that the JuD had been banned with immediate effect. The group's offices across Pakistan were being sealed and its activists are under observation, he said.
Simultaneously, the State Bank of Pakistan directed all banks to freeze the bank accounts of the Jamaat and the four Let leaders, including Saeed, who were declared terrorists subject to sanctions.
Saeed, also the founder of the outlawed LeT, was placed under house arrest for three months in his residence in Johar Town area of the eastern city of Lahore,TV channels reported.
Reports said the clampdown began after orders were issued by the interior ministry for the detention of Saeed and seven other Jamaat leaders. Their names were also included on the Exit Control List, a document that lists persons barred from travelling out of the country.
There were unconfirmed reports of the sealing of Jamaat offices in various parts of Punjab, Sindh and North West Frontier Province and the arrest of dozens of its activists.
In Lahore, police sealed the group's headquarters Jamiatul Qudisa where Saeed had addressed a news conference this afternoon. In places like Peshawar, Jamaat members left offices after locking them. There was no official word on these developments.
The Pakistan government action came after the UN Security Council yesterday notified the Jamaat as a front organisation for the LeT.
Acting on a demand from India and the US, the Security Council also declared four LeT leaders Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, Muhammad Ashraf and Mahmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq as terrorists subject to sanctions like a travel ban and asset freeze.
Reports said the government had directed the media not to air or publish statements by leaders and members of banned groups. The police chiefs of the four provinces were directed to monitor the activities of the Jamaat and to seal its offices.
Nine Jamaat offices in Sindh, including two in the provincial capital Karachi, were sealed and over 20 of its activists were rounded up, Dawn News channel reported.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told visiting US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte that "Pakistan has taken note of the designation of certain individuals and entities by the UN under Resolution 1267 of the UN Security Council and would fulfil its international obligations".
A defiant Saeed told a news conference in Lahore this afternoon that he was prepared to face in court any charges brought against him and the Jamaat on the basis of evidence provided by India and the US.
The government's move was criticised by hardline groups like the Jamaat-e-Islami, whose chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed said: "This is not only hasty but this is intended to corner Pakistan and the Pakistani citizens. It is unjustified that Pakistani citizens, without any legal procedures, are being subjected to such injustices."
Following intense pressure from the US and India to crack down on the LeT, Pakistani security forces launched a crackdown on the group on Sunday. More than 20 LeT and Jamaat members, including Lakhvi and communications specialist Zarar Shah, have been arrested.
Reports said Lakhvi is currently being questioned by Pakistani intelligence agencies.