Pakistan to swoop on militant leaders

India and US demand action against group thought to be behind Mumbai attacks

Pakistan's security forces were poised last night to arrest the leaders, dismantle the infrastructure and close the training camps of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Islamic militant group held responsible by India for the killings of 171 people in Mumbai, government sources said.

India and the US have demanded action by Pakistan against the group, which operates more or less openly in Lahore and all over Punjab using a charitable and educational movement, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, as a front organisation. The Pakistani government has said it has yet to see proof that the Mumbai attack was carried out by Pakistanis, but independent evidence is emerging which confirms that the lone surviving gunman, Ajmal Amir Kasab, came from the village of Faridkot, south-west of Lahore.

Lashkar-e-Toiba's leader, Mohammed Hafeez Saeed, lives in Lahore and local observers predict his detention could provoke violence in the city. The Indian police say that, during his interrogation, Mr Kasab claimed he had once met Mr Saeed during his 18 months of training in four camps in Pakistan.

But Pakistani government resolve to take action against Lashkar-e-Toiba could be undermined by angry exchanges with India yesterday over a hoax telephone conversation between the Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and a caller pretending to be the Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee on 28 November. Mr Mukherjee denies the Pakistani claim that a conversation took place in which he threatened Pakistan with war. Pakistan insists the call came from the Indian External Affairs Ministry.

The dispute illustrates the depth of the suspicions between the two countries. The senior Pakistani diplomat in the UK, High Commissioner Wajid Hassan, said at the weekend that he believed India had been preparing to attack his country and that he warned both his own government and British officials of his concerns.

Another likely target of the government clampdown is the complex of clinics and schools of Jamaat-ud-Dawa at Muridke, 15 miles north of Lahore. Former students say that while it was not obligatory to become a jihadi, pledged to fight the oppressors of Muslims, they were encouraged to move in that direction. Children had a small image of a machine gun printed on their tunics. Teachers related how they had fought as Lashkar-e-Toiba fighters infiltrated into Indian-controlled Kashmir. Students received training in hand-to-hand combat.

The most significant move by the Pakistani government would be to close down the military training camps in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Pakistani officials say they believe India considered launching air attacks on these in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. Former students from Muridke have gone there for military training.

While Pakistani moves against Lashkar-e-Toiba might be more than cosmetic, they would not necessarily be effective. Although the group was formed in 1989 in collaboration with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, it does not follow that the ISI still has a measure of control over it. Since Pakistan stopped much of the border infiltration by Islamic fighters into Kashmir in 2004, many militants of groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba have developed close links with the Pakistan Taliban and al-Qa'ida. The motive behind the attack on Mumbai might have been to relieve the military pressure on these groups by provoking a crisis with India which would force the Pakistani army to withdraw from the Afghan border areas to face India.

The Pakistani government has hitherto said that it had been shown no convincing evidence that the Mumbai attack was launched from Pakistan or that Pakistanis had taken part. But this stance is undermined by the discovery that Mr Kasab did indeed come from Faridkot as he had claimed during interrogations. One villager confirmed that Mr Kasab's mother, Noor Elahi, had burst into tears when she saw him on television after his capture. Although she and her husband, Mohammed Amir, had left their house earlier in the week, their presence in the village was confirmed by the electoral roll. Villagers said that Lashkar-e-Toiba had significant support in the area.

The Pakistani government and military establishment are under intense pressure but do not want to be seen as caving in to India and the US. Since the peace process with India started in 2004 the infiltration of fighters from Pakistan into Kashmir has reportedly fallen by 85 per cent. But the Pakistanis feel that India has not responded to such conciliatory gestures and simply acts as if the Kashmir issue was resolved.

Taliban allies attack US supply vehicles in Peshawar

A measure of the violence now spreading across Pakistan was the attack yesterday morning by 200 pro-Taliban militants in the city of Peshawar on a depot where they set fire to 160 vehicles carrying supplies to American-led troops in Afghanistan. The successful assault highlights the threat to their supplies, three-quarters of which come through Pakistan.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
News
The letter, purported to be from the 1970s, offered a message of gender equality to parents

When it comes to promoting equality of the sexes, we tend to think that we’ve come a long way in the past 40 years.

News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin