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'JuD's religious schools will not be closed'

Religious schools run by the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), proscribed by the UNSC last week and facing a crackdown, will not be closed, Pakistani authorities maintained.

world Updated: Dec 15, 2008 20:30 IST

Religious schools run by the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), proscribed by the UN Security Council last week and facing a crackdown, will not be closed, Pakistani authorities maintained on Monday even as President Asif Ali Zaradari will on Tuesday meet coalition partners to discuss the "tense situation" in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Security agencies continued raids to arrest more JuD leaders. Officials said two important JuD leaders are in Saudi Arabia to perform Haj and might not return to Pakistan to avoid arrest.

Without giving their names, a JuD activist said though many of their leaders had gone for Haj, there are two "important and leading" personalities who may go to some other country.

An official of the interior ministry said that mosques and religious schools belonging to JuD were not being sealed and those already sealed by the police will be opened after primary investigations.

The officials, not wishing to be identified, said the JuD runs more than 500 schools and mosques and some of them were sealed by the police but will be reopened "soon".

JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and other top leaders have already been placed under house arrest or sent to different jails.

JuD spokesman Abdullah Muntazir told IANS that it was difficult to give exact number of people arrested so far but feared that there number may be more than 100.

"Several of our workers at district and city levels have been arrested and all communication network has been disbanded so its difficult to give the number", he said.

The JuD is considered a front for the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, suspected by India to be behind the Nov 26 Mumbai terrorist attack that claiemd more than 170 lives.

At a special meeting last week, the UN Security Council proscribed the outfit.

Meanwhile, President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met at the presidency on Monday and decided to call a meeting of the coalition partners, officials said.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP)-led coalition includes seven regional and national parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The meeting will be followed by a special cabinet session Gilani has called on Wednesday after reports in the American media that India could strike inside Pakistan, targeting the JuD centre at Muredke near Lahore.

Informed sources said Zardari and Gilani discussed India-Pakistan relations in the wake of the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks, geo-strategic security issues, and national and global political developments.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was in Paris for a meeting on the Afghanistan crisis, said Pakistan wanted to resolve the issue through dialogue and was cooperating with India in every respect.

Qureshi said Pakistan had offered to join investigations in the Mumbai attacks and was willing to a delegation to chalk out a joint strategy against terrorism.

The minister said that Pakistan had imposed a ban on the JuD in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution. "Its offices have been sealed and leaders have been arrested," he told mediapersons.