Negroponte in Islamabad to discuss action on terror groups

By Muhammad Najeeb, IANS,

Islamabad : US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived here Thursday on what is being seen as a follow up to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to discuss the action being taken by Pakistan against terrorist groups accused by India of being instrumental in the Mumbai terror attacks.

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Officials said that Negroponte would hold discussions with President Asif Ali Zardari and other Pakistani leaders.

“The relations between Pakistan and India as well as Pakistan’s action against banned outfits would be discussed during his stay in Pakistan,” an official said.

Negroponte’s visit to Islamabad comes a day after the UN Security Council branded the Pakistan-based Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) a terror outfit and declared four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leaders global terrorists.

According to the UN Security Council Al Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee, JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and LeT leaders Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Haji Muhammad Ashraf and Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq are “subject to assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo” set out in the Security Council resolution 1822 of 2008.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Abdullah Hussain Haroon said his country will abide by the UN’s Wednesday ruling.

On Wednesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said that operation against the banned organisations was underway and his government was doing so on its own and not under pressure from India.

He also told mediapersons that India had not provided any evidence of any Pakistan-based organisation’s involvement in terrorist activities, particularly the Nov 26 Mumbai attacks that left over 170 people dead.

However, he said Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, who were allegedly key planners of the Mumbai attacks, had been arrested.

Local media reports Thursday said Pakistani security forces continued their crackdown on LeT and JuD offices. It was not officially announced how many people have been arrested so far but unconfirmed reports said 28 people belonging to both the organisations have been detained.

Media reports said Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar has also been arrested and his offices in Bahawalpur and Karachi were seized by the law enforcing agencies last week.

The JuD chief denied his group’s link with any terrorist activity in an interview with Saeed said the allegations levelled by India against his group at the UN were “baseless and unfounded” and the JuD would challenge the ban in all forums.