Ajmal Amir alias Kasab Want Legal AID from Pakistan

Mumbai, Dec 14:: Captured Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab has sought the Pakitan government’s help in fighting his case after lawyers here refused to defend him, a top police official said Saturday.

Mumbai’s Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Rakesh Maria said Amir’s letter addressed to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi had been forwarded by the Mumbai police to the central government.

Amir is also understood to have requested Pakistan authorities to take charge of the body of his associate Ismail Khan, who was killed in a shootout with police early Nov 27, Maria told mediapersons here.

Amir is the only one among the 10 terrorists who struck Mumbai Nov 26 night to have been captured. India has maintained all of them had come from Pakistan, though Islamabad doubts the claim and has demanded more evidence.

Mumbai lawyers have unanimously decided not to represent Amir. When his case came up for hearing last week, even a lawyer appointed by the Maharashtra Legal Aid Centre refused to take up his case.

Amir is currently in police custody till Dec 24 and lodged at the Mumbai police headquarters lock-up under high security.

In another startling development, police have confirmed that the deadly RDX explosive was used to blast two cabs during the attacks.

Samples from the wreckage of the cabs were examined by the Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Kalina in northwest Mumbai.

While one cab was blasted at Vile Parle on the Western Express Highway, barely a kilometre from Mumbai airport, another was blown off in Mazagaon, south-central Mumbai, barely a kilometre from the high-security Mumbai docks area.

Four persons were killed in the two cab blasts and two others injured.

The Mumbai attacks left at least 170 people, including 26 foreingers dead.

Class conflict, religion fuelling jehadis in Pakistan

Islamabad, Dec 14:: Class conflict and religion are in equal measure fuelling the jehadi movement in Pakistan, and the sooner the government moves against this the better, editorials in three leading English dailies said Saturday.

“The resentment the powerless feel may be cloaked in anti-Americanism or religiosity but in actual fact it boils down to a class conflict,” Dawn said in an editorial headlined “The common enemy”.

“Becoming part of a militant or terrorist organisation empowers poor, impressionable young men. And it’s not just the weapons or the monthly stipend that give them comfort – finally they have an identity when previously they were faceless, they become part of a community in which they are respected,” the newspaper added.

Noting that the “uniform” of militant Islam “confers instant respectability in some quarters”, Dawn said that the sole terrorist captured in Mumbai, Ajmal Kasab of Faridkot, “apparently first sought refuge from poverty in crime and then gravitated towards jehadi outfits”.

“As long as nothing is done to address the growing underemployment in this country, the militants will find no shortage of fresh recruits,” the editorial maintained.

Terrorists who India says came from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai Nov 26 night and attacked several targets in India’s financial capital. The mayhem ended Nov 29, killing over 170 people including foreigners.

Holding that the Mumbai violence had diverted attention in Pakistan from the internal threat to an external “enemy”, Dawn said: “This must not be allowed to happen.

“Soul-searching is in order, and an acceptance of the fact that Pakistan is indeed a hub of militancy and terrorism,” the editorial added.

Dawn also urged President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to “inform the nation in unequivocal terms that what is past is past and that extremism, which has taken root in this country, will enjoy no sanction and will not be tolerated”.

Lamenting that it was “sad, on one level”, that it had taken external pressure “to stir the government into acting against those who are besmirching our name in the world”, Dawn said: “We face isolation, and internal ruin, if the common enemy is not brought to book.”

The Pakistani government Thursday sealed the offices of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, after the UN declared it a terrorist organisation.

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New Delhi has blamed the LeT for the Mumbai terror attacks and the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.

According to The News, JuD and the LeT were “known to have scouted Punjab for suitable people to join their ranks. Summer schools were also organised for children, with ‘religious’ education imparted to them reportedly incorporating fiery ‘pro-jehad’ messages”.

In this context, it pointed to Kasab’s father telling “a sad, but familiar tale, of an angry young man walking out of the house and falling straight into the hands of a religious organisation”.

Thus, “if there is a true commitment to doing away with forces like the JuD, and if our desire to do so stems from within ourselves rather than from the US, the UN or India, much more needs to be done.

“We need to expose the true nature of these forces before people; to reveal how they have lured vulnerable young teenagers away from homes and families only to turn them into killers; how they have exploited religion to further their own interests,” The News contended.

“It is only when its roots are pulled out that an organisation like the JuD can be stopped. Otherwise, like a weed, it will continue to spread rapidly,” the editorial added.

Pakistan media does ‘soul-searching’ over Mumbai

Islamabad, Dec 14:: The Pakistani media has begun doing a lot of “soul-searching” in the wake of the Mumbai carnage that has shocked civil society in this country as much as it has shocked the rest of the world, with the English language newspapers warning the government about how class conflict and religion were fuelling the jehadi movement.

As reflected in the opinions and editorials in leading dailies, questions are being raised as to why Pakistan finds itself in the centre of an international storm after the Nov 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and whether the tragedy can be used as a turning point by the country to look within – even though the government may be toeing a different line.

“Soul-searching is in order, and an acceptance of the fact that Pakistan is indeed a hub of militancy and terrorism,” the Dawn said in an editorial headlined “The common enemy”.

While some have called for Pakistan to bid farewell to the diplomacy of jehad, others have said the roots should be “pulled out” if extremist organisations are to be stopped from spreading like a weed in society.

Said the Dawn: “The resentment the powerless feel may be cloaked in anti-Americanism or religiosity but in actual fact it boils down to a class conflict.”

“Becoming part of a militant or terrorist organisation empowers poor, impressionable young men. And it’s not just the weapons or the monthly stipend that give them comfort – finally they have an identity when previously they were faceless, they become part of a community in which they are respected,” the newspaper added.

The media has cited Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole terrorist caught alive in the Mumbai terror attack, as one such youth even as the government is yet to confirm him as a Pakistani. Saying that Kasab hails from Faridkot, the Dawn said he “apparently first sought refuge from poverty in crime and then gravitated towards jehadi outfits”.

Terrorists who India says came from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai Nov 26 night and attacked several targets in India’s financial capital. The mayhem ended Nov 29, killing over 170 people, including foreigners.

Dawn also urged President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to “inform the nation in unequivocal terms that what is past is past and that extremism, which has taken root in this country, will enjoy no sanction and will not be tolerated”.

Lamenting that it was “sad, on one level”, that it had taken external pressure “to stir the government into acting against those who are besmirching our name in the world”, Dawn said: “We face isolation, and internal ruin, if the common enemy is not brought to book.”

The Pakistani government Thursday sealed the offices of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a front for the banned Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, after the UN declared it a terrorist organisation.

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According to The News, JuD and the LeT were “known to have scouted Punjab for suitable people to join their ranks. Summer schools were also organised for children, with ‘religious’ education imparted to them reportedly incorporating fiery ‘pro-jehad’ messages”.

Thus, “if there is a true commitment to doing away with forces like the JuD, and if our desire to do so stems from within ourselves rather than from the US, the UN or India, much more needs to be done.

“It is only when its roots are pulled out that an organisation like the JuD can be stopped. Otherwise, like a weed, it will continue to spread rapidly,” the editorial added.

Others have pointed out how the sudden international pressure to act against extremist groups is showing in the disappearance of the United Jihad Council (UJC), a coalition of Kashmiri jehadi groups led by Syed Salahuddin of the Hizbul Mujahideen.

“Following the Mumbai attacks and the subsequent tension between Pakistan and India, the United Jihad Council has decided to remain silent,” The News quoted a commander of one UJC affiliate as saying.

“In the current situation, the UJC is maintaining complete silence and has no contact with any Pakistani organisation or institution,” he said.

Noted political commentator Ayaz Amir has suggested that it may be time for Pakistan “to bid a final farewell to the diplomacy of jihad”. This was because “times have changed. Adventures once affordable are no longer so. What was doable 10, 15 years ago is now hazardous business, the international terrain having changed after 9/11”, he noted.

“In a way, therefore, if the proper lessons are drawn, Mumbai, a terrible event for India, may turn out to be a blessing for Pakistan, helping to concentrate Pakistani minds and enabling Pakistan to take the turning that otherwise it might not have taken so soon,” he has written.

US denies move to brand Pakistan terrorist state

Washington, Dec 14:: Denying there was any move to brand Pakistan a terrorist state, the US has said that Islamabad took action against a front operation of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in its own interest.

“No. Look, Pakistan did this because it saw it in its interest,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Friday when asked if the US had sent such a message as suggested by Pakistan Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar.

Pakistan acted against Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front of LeT blamed by India for the Mumbai terror attacks, in accordance with a UN resolution to prevent being declared a terrorist state, Mukhtar told reporters in Islamabad.

The UN branded the Jamaat a terror outfit Wednesday in the wake of the Nov 26 attacks on India’s financial capital.

“As we have said many, many times over, the threat from violent extremists and terrorists in Pakistan is as much a threat to the Pakistani people and the Pakistani Government as it is to anybody else,” McCormack said.

“All that said, it’s a welcome step that they took. This is a day-by-day process and is something that requires vigilance every single day in fighting terrorism,” he added.

Asked if there was any talk at all that Pakistan may be branded as a terrorist state, McCormack said: “No.”

“No,” he repeated as a reporter persisted: “No talk at all?”

Asked if Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice would be discussing the UN ban on the Jamaat when she visits New York next week, McCormack said: “I’m sure that she will touch on the issues related to India and Pakistan.”

Rice plans to see British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in New York, he said adding: “And, you know, if they do get together, I’m sure that that topic will come up.”

Declare Pakistan a terrorist state, demand Indian Americans

United Nations, Dec 14:: Braving chilly winter, agitated Indian Americans gathered in front of the UN headquarters in mid-town Manhattan Friday afternoon to demand the world body declare Pakistan a terrorist state.

Raising anti-Pakistan slogans and displaying banners and placards denouncing the Mumbai terror outrage, Indian Americans alleged that almost all the major terrorists attacks of the world in recent years have their bases in Pakistan. As such it was high time the United Nations, the powerful Security Council in particular, take measure to declare it as a terrorist state.

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The peaceful demonstration, which lasted for about two hours, was organized by Overseas Friends if BJP (OFBJP). “Pakistan should immediately be declared as a terrorist State,” said Rajesh Shukla of the OFBJP.

In a memorandum submitted to the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the OFBJP urged him to take necessary action to ensure that terrorists from Pakistan do not strike again. “We urge the Security Council to immediately pass a resolution in this regard,” the memorandum said.

Meanwhile, the NRIs for Secular and Harmonious India Friday welcomed the decision of Security Council to slap ban on Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

“Banning Jamat-ud-Dawa is a good beginning,” the organization said. “Pakistan must destroy all the masterminds of these acts of historic infamy which took place on Indian soil on 26/11,” it demanded.

Pakistan continues crackdown on JuD

Islamabad, Dec 14:: Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies Saturday continued their countrywide crackdown against the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), proscribed by the UN Security Council in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Reports said that 11 more arrests were made from different parts and almost all offices of the JuD had been closed down either by the security agencies or by the JuD itself.

An interior ministry official said three out of four men who came under sanction by the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee Wednesday – Muhammad Saeed a.k.a. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Haji Muhammad Ashraf Arian, and Mohmoud Mohammad Ahmed Bahaziq – were apprehended, while the agencies were conducting raids to arrest Arian, an important member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

However, media reports said Arian had died some six years back. A report by GEO television quoting his close relatives said Arian died during his arrest in jail in 2002 after he was picked up from his home from interior Sindh.

Arian’s family migrated from Indian Punjab to Sindh in 1947 during the partition and since then was living there. His family members said security officials had raided their house and they were shown his death certificate issued by jail authorities.

Pakistan will not hand over suspects to India: Gilani

Islamabad, Dec 14:: Reiterating that his government will not hand over any terror suspect to India, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday said he had not received any evidence of any Pakistani’s involvement in the Mumbai carnage.

In an interview with a Gulf television channel, he said if anyone was found involved in any terrorist activity, he will be dealt with according to the law but will “not be handed over to India”.

Indian authorities have maintained that the 10 terrorists who struck Mumbai on the night of Nov 26 has come from Pakistan. In a demarche served to the Pakistani high commissioner in New Delhi, India has asked Pakistan to hand over 40 people it says are fugitives and responsible for various acts of terror in the country.

Gilani, however, said Pakistani authorities had so far not received any evidence of the use of Pakistan’s soil in the attacks that killed at least 170 people, including 22 foreigners.

“If India has any solid evidence it should share it with Pakistan,” he said adding Pakistan is ready to help India in investigations.

The prime minister said his government had taken action against the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), considered a front of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), as a responsible state and abiding by the international laws and not any pressure from India.

Following India’s representation Tuesday, the UN Security Council proscribed the JuD.

Amid rising tensions between the two South Asian neighbours, Gilani said India was a responsible state and will not launch any strike against Pakistan.

He added some international “common friends” were trying to restore normalcy between India and Pakistan.

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