Pakistan to shut terror-linked charity

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The Independent Online

Pakistan bowed to international pressure today and ordered the closure of a charity linked to the terrorist group suspected of the Mumbai attacks.

It acted a day after Jamat-ud-Dawa was declared a front for terrorists by the United Nations.

Five of its leaders including top man Hafiz Mohammed Saeed were put under house arrest and the group's assets were frozen.

Earlier authorities in Karachi said they had closed nine premises associated with the group, apparently carrying out the order from the central government.

Pakistan has arrested at least 20 people, including two extremists said by India to be key players in the Mumbai attacks, but India has made it clear it wants to see more action.

The attacks on Mumbai, India's financial centre, killed 171 people and sharply raised tensions between the countries, which have fought three wars over the last 60 years.

The UN Security Council panel yesterday declared Jamat-ud-Dawa a front for a terrorist group subject to UN sanctions including an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

US officials say the group, which has offices, schools and medical clinics around the country, is a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the banned militant group accused by India of carrying out and planning the Mumbai assaults.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said it had "taken note of the designation" and "would fulfil its international obligations." He did not elaborate.

Earlier Jemaat's hard-line Islamist chief denied that the charity was involved in terrorism and denounced the UN He said the group would petition the UN as well as national and international courts to overturn the decision.

"If India or the US has any proof against Jamat-ud-Dawa, we are ready to stand in any court. We do not beg, we demand justice," Hafiz Mohammed Saeed said at a news conference.

Pakistan has promised to pursue those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

But it complains that India has not shared evidence from its investigation, underlining the mistrust hampering US efforts to avert a deeper crisis between the two countries.