Lahore: Pakistani authorities have extended for 60 days the detention of Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Islamist militant group India has blamed for November’s attacks in Mumbai, a government spokesman said on Sunday.
Saeed, who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or LeT, militant group in 1990, was put under house arrest in Lahore in early December after a United Nations Security Council committee added him and an Islamist charity he heads to a list of people and organizations linked to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
For years, the LeT battled Indian forces in the Kashmir region. The group was banned in Pakistan in 2002. Saeed is also head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, which the UN said last month was a front for the LeT.
Pervaiz Rasheed, a spokesman for the provincial government in Punjab, said Saeed and five senior charity members had their house arrest extended for 60 days. Fifty-five activists had been put on a watch list.
“We extended it because we have nothing against them to produce in court. We’re acting on the UN resolution. After 60 days, we’ll review it,” Rasheed said.
Ties between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India, which have fought three wars since 1947, deteriorated sharply after coordinated attacks by 10 gunmen on Mumbai in late November that killed 183.
Pakistan has denied involvement by state agencies and has said it is investigating Pakistani links to the attack.
India has demanded Pakistan dismantle the “infrastructure of terrorism” and has repeatedly said “all options were open” in responding.
That has raised fears of Indian military strikes on militant targets in Pakistan, which could spark war.
Rasheed said the Punjab government had sealed about 70 Jamaat-ud-Dawa offices and taken over 30 of its schools and dispensaries.
In the days after the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan captured two of the suspected planners, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, in a crackdown against the LeT in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The Wall Street Journal said last month Shah had confessed to his involvement in the attack. The government has said its investigation is still going on although it confirmed last week that the lone surviving gunman was Pakistani.
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday Pakistan had yet to respond to India’s dossier of evidence on the Mumbai attacks.