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Pakistan: Protests against ban on Jamaat-ud-Dawah

Source: PTI
December 13, 2008 02:26 IST
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Hundreds of people today marched towards UN office in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to protest the world body's declaration of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah as a terror outfit while political and religious leaders criticised the government's decision to crackdown on the group.

Pakistan yesterday banned the Jamaat and clamped down on its leaders and activists after a UN Security Council panel declared the group a front for the outlawed Lashker-e-Taiba and put four LeT leaders on a list of terrorists subject to sanctions like an asset freeze and a travel ban.

Hundreds of protesters marched to an office of the UN in PoK capital Muzaffarabad to protest the decision. The protesters shouted slogans against the US, India and the UN.

As part of the countrywide crackdown against the Jamaat, Pakistani authorities have detained its chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and other top leaders and sealed its offices, seminaries, educational institutions and hospitals.

Saeed's son, Mohammad Talha Saeed, said the group will mount a legal challenge in Pakistan's courts and the International Court of Justice against the crackdown.

"There is no moral or legal justification for this action," he said in a sermon to thousands of people who attended Friday prayers at a mosque run by the Jamaat in Lahore.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also chairman of the parliament's Special Committee on Kashmir, demanded that Pakistan should approach the UN Security Council for reviewing its decision to declare the Jamaat a terrorist group.

Talking to reporters in Karachi, Rehman said the Jamaat and Al Rashid Trust, an affiliated organisation, were welfare groups and not terrorist entities. He said that no such action had been taken against several terrorist groups in India though Muslim charities were being targeted because of a bias against Islam.

Rehman claimed India should behave responsibly and not use any incident to "mar the progress towards normalizing relations" with Pakistan.

Punjab Chief Minister and opposition PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif asked India to provide solid proof against any Pakistani individuals believed to be involved in the Mumbai terror attacks.

He told reporters after a meeting of leaders of several political parties in Lahore that Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism and was not involved in the Mumbai attacks. He expressed dismay at what he termed India's "hasty move" to take the case of the Jamaat to the UN Security Council.

Sharif said all the provincial governments, including the one in Punjab, will fully cooperate with the federal government's decision to crackdown on the Jamaat.

However, he alleged that India and some other countries were involved in the insurgency in Balochistan. Sharif asked New Delhi to reduce tension and to stop pointing a finger of blame at Islamabad.

Meanwhile, leaders of religious parties held meetings in all provincial capitals and Muzaffarabad to protest the banning of the Jamaat and the closure of its offices.

The leaders demanded the immediate release of Jamaat leaders and the lifting of the ban on the group.

In their sermons after the Friday prayers, some clerics in Lahore asked Pakistan's rulers not to accept the "dictation of India". They also condemned the government's action of sealing mosques run by the Jamaat and said the entire nation was with the group in "this critical hour".                           





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