Islamabad: Top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) members Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah—both have been named by India as being behind the Mumbai terror attack—have been detained by Pakistani security agencies, prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Wednesday, even as India asked the United Nations (UN) Security Council to ban Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a front organization of LeT.
Refusing comment on the involvement of Lakhvi, Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Masood Azhar and other Pakistani citizens in terrorist acts, Gilani said once the Indian intelligence agencies shared the findings of their probe with Pakistan, the country would conduct its own investigation and the law would take its course if Lakhvi and Shah are found involved in acts of terror.
News reports said sole surviving gunman Mohammed Ajmal Kasab named Lakhvi as the man who put together the team of attackers, while investigators suspect Shah arranged SIM cards and satellite phones used in the siege on India’s financial capital.
The Pakistan prime minister said he was yet to receive a report on Azhar, who has been put under house arrest in his Bahawalpur home.
In New Delhi, dubbing the Mumbai attacks as “most horrendous”, Parliament sought strict action and all-out efforts to prevent recurrence of such attacks.
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee in the Lok Sabha and chairman Hamid Ansari in the Rajya Sabha condemned the Mumbai strikes as well as the terror attacks in Assam as both Houses met for the first day of the third part of the monsoon session.
“The scourge of terrorism must be countered at all levels by the people and the government,” Ansari said in the Rajya Sabha.
The government is finalizing a plan to set up a federal investigative agency, to which the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has agreed in principle but said wouldn’t work without tougher anti-terror laws.
“We want more teeth to this federal investigative agency,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said, even as party leader M. Venkaiah Naidu criticized the government for “shying away” from directly naming Pakistan “as the accused” in the terror attacks on Indian soil at the UN Security Council meeting and demanded it take a “tough stance” on the issue.
The BJP has pounded the government as being soft on terrorism in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, and put security centre stage in recent assembly polls in five states.
But the BJP managed only a lukewarm performance in the month-long elections, winning just two states—Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh—and failing to win the big prize, Delhi.
At the UN, India asked the UN Security Council to ban JuD over the Mumbai attack, prompting Islamabad to promise action if the world body proscribes the group as a terrorist outfit.
“The Jamaat-ud-Dawa and other such organizations need to be proscribed internationally and effective sanctions imposed against them. Their country of origin needs to take urgent steps to stop their functioning,” minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed said during a debate on terrorism at the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
Mahmud Ali Durrani, adviser to the Pakistani prime minister on national security, said if evidence is found of the Jamaat being involved in the attacks, it would be banned. Durrani told Geo News channel on Wednesday that if evidence pointed to any other organization during investigations, they, too, would be banned.
His comments echoed remarks by Pakistan’s UN ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon that the Jamaat could be banned and its assets frozen on the request of the UN Security Council.
Significantly, China, a close ally of Pakistan, has in the past blocked three attempts to proscribe JuD in the council, and now all eyes would be on what it does on the fresh move.
In Multan, Gilani also indicated that the government believed the Jamaat is a front organization for LeT. “LeT is a banned group. If its members become part of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, what will be its status?” he asked.
Meanwhile, the US is yet to confirm arrests and action against terror groups operating from Pakistan, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has said, but described the reported crackdown by Islamabad as “serious sets of steps”.
Her comments came as American counterterrorism officials have put question marks on how far the Pakistan government would rein in the groups.
Reuters and AFP contributed to this story.