LAHORE, Pakistan – Pakistan said Sunday it formally took control of the main operational facility of a charity allegedly linked to the Mumbai attacks, underscoring its ongoing effort to ease international pressure over militancy on its soil.
The Muslim nation had already closed or taken over several offices, schools and other properties of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity and detained much of its central leadership. On Sunday, a newly appointed government administrator took over the 75-acre compound in the eastern city of Muridke in Punjab province where the group has conducted much of its business.
India says the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba staged the November attacks that killed 164 people. Soon after, the U.N. declared that Jamaat-ud-Dawa — popular with many Pakistanis for its relief work — was a front for Lashkar, prompting Pakistan's crackdown.
Salman Ejaz, a senior official in the Punjab province, said all assets and properties of the charity in the province were now under the regional government's control. Most of the assets, offices and operations of the group are in Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province.
"The government has appointed an officer as administrator for all the assets," Ejaz said. "The schools and the hospitals will keep on working as they are."
Initially, there were several relatively small protests over the government's moves against the charity, but that fervor appears to have died down in recent days.
Ejaz said the administrator and other officials would try to gauge and map out the extent of the charity's operations — especially its bank accounts, which Pakistan has ordered frozen.
Asked why it took so long for the government to take over the Muridke site, officials said it was a complicated task.
After the initial crackdown and assessment of the group's operations, "we are going for total regulation under government control," Punjab Home Secretary Nadeem Hasan said. "All things cannot happen in one go."