ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan on Friday pressed India to share evidence from the Mumbai attacks, warning that any effort to prosecute key suspects rounded up in Pakistan will be hamstrung without it.
India says Pakistan must dismantle the militant group blamed for last month's attack, which left 173 dead, including nine gunmen, and sharply raised tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Pakistan, under pressure from the U.S. to avoid a crisis that would divert Islamabad from battling the Taliban and Al Qaeda on its Afghan frontier, has arrested two alleged masterminds of the assault.
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On Thursday, it clamped down on an Islamic charity after the U.N. branded it a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the powerful Pakistan-based guerrilla group blamed for the Mumbai attacks.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Friday that Pakistan firmly believed that its territory should not be used to commit any act of terrorism.
"However, our own investigations cannot proceed beyond a certain point without provision of credible information and evidence pertaining to Mumbai attacks," Qureshi said in a televised statement.
Indian authorities have released what they said were the names and Pakistani hometowns of the 10 gunmen who assailed India's commercial capital over three days. Having interrogated the lone gunman captured alive, Indian investigators allege that the gunmen were trained in camps in Pakistan.
Pakistan complains that its own investigation has had to rely on Indian news reports due to the lack of information coming from authorities.
However, Dawn, a respected Pakistani newspaper, reported Friday that its correspondents had tracked down the family of the surviving gunman.
The English-language daily quoted Amir Kasab as saying he was the father of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the 21-year-old suspect now held in India. Interviewed in his village of Faridkot, Amir Kasab said his son had disappeared around four years ago.
"I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son," the newspaper quoted him as saying. "Now I have accepted it."
The U.S. says Lashkar, which grew out of the 1980s resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, has developed ties to Al Qaeda. India accuses it of involvement in a string of terrorist attacks on its territory and alleges that Pakistani intelligence continues to back it — a charge vehemently denied in Islamabad.
However, Lashkar's main focus has been fighting Indian troops in Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between Pakistan and India since independence from Britain in 1947 and the source of two of their three wars.
Islamic charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa says it cut its ties with Lashkar when the latter was banned by then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2002. But the U.N. on Wednesday said Jamaat-ud-Dawa was no more than a front.
The next day, Pakistani authorities put the charity's leader, Lashkar founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, under house arrest, sealed its offices around the country and ordered banks to freeze its assets.
The clampdown continued Friday, with police and officials from the charity reporting that dozens of its offices were closed in northwest and southern Pakistan. Attique Chohan, a Jamaat-ud-Dawa spokesman in North West Frontier Province, claimed scores of activists were arrested.
The U.S. is pressing Pakistan and India to cooperate in the investigation and resume a painstaking peace process that has lowered tensions without resolving the core dispute over Kashmir.
Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Negroponte, arrived in New Delhi on Friday from Islamabad, the second trip by a top-ranking American official in a week.
Analysts warn that Pakistan's shaky civilian government could face a political backlash if it moves strongly against Jamaat-ud-Dawa under pressure from India and the U.S. and without making public the evidence against it.
In the first sign of public dissent, about 500 people marched to a U.N. office in Pakistan's portion of Kashmir on Friday chanting slogans against the U.N. and India, including "India your death came, Lashkar came, Lashkar came!"
The protesters, who included members of Pakistan's largest religious party, dispersed peacefully after reaching the U.N. office in the town of Muzaffarabad, where some 70 policemen were standing guard.
The attacks have undermined India-Pakistan relations — even in sports. On Friday, India's sports minister expressed opposition to the national cricket team going ahead with next month's scheduled tour of Pakistan in the wake of the attacks.
Sports Minister M.S. Gill said it was not the right time to play with Pakistan when "people from their soil were indulging in mass murder in India," the Press Trust of India reported.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa promotes a hard-line brand of Islam and is virulently anti-Indian. It also runs hundreds of schools and clinics across Pakistan and has helped the victims of two recent earthquakes.
However, analysts suspect that it may also be channeling funds and volunteers to Lashkar-e-Taiba, in addition to its still-vocal ideological support.
Also Friday, a police team arrived in northern India to seek a warrant to bring two suspected Lashkar militants to Mumbai for questioning.
Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, both Indian nationals, have been in jail in the city of Rampur since being detained in February after an attack there on a police station.
Ansari was found with maps of the sites attacked in Mumbai, while police say Ahmed was a Lashkar operative based in Nepal who used to shepherd gunmen across India's porous borders.