India welcome for terrorist freeze
By staff and wires
NEW DELHI, India -- A U.S. decision to freeze the assets of a Pakistan-based militant group shows the war on terrorism is broadening, Indian officials say.
India, annoyed at the hypocrisy it sees in the actions of Pakistan, now hopes concerns about more "terrorist groups" will be addressed, a government official said.
Interior minister Lal Krishna Advani told supporters at a rally in Agra: "I welcome this step. Now the world knows the danger of terrorism that we have been fighting for more than a decade."
The United States included the Jaish-e-Mohammad group in a new list of 39 individuals and organizations whose assets were blocked.
But the group, also known as the Army of Mohammad, was unfazed by the U.S. action and vowed to pursue its armed struggle against India.
"Jihad (holy war) is ordained by Allah, it has never stopped and it will never stop," a spokesman for the frontline group told Reuters from Muzaffarabad, state capital of the Pakistan controlled part of the disputed state of Kashmir.
India accuses Pakistan of supporting terrorism in the disputed state that lies between the rival nuclear neighbors but Pakistan will only admit to moral support for separatists.
The U.S. Treasury, which released the new list of alleged terrorists and suspected terrorist organizations on Friday, identified Jaish-e-Mohammad as a supporter of Afghanistan's Taliban rulers.
The Taliban are enduring air strikes for sheltering Osama bin Laden, accused of masterminding the September 11 attacks on the United States.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is about to travel to India and Pakistan in an effort to calm India-Pakistan tensions that rose sharply after a car bomb attack on the Kashmir legislature.
Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the suicide attack early this month which killed 38 people, then later denied involvement.
India, one of the first countries to offer support to the United States in its global fight against terror, has been seeking to broaden the campaign to include those fighting its rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir.
"We have long been seeking a ban on the Jaish, it is a positive step which we expect will gradually extend to other terrorist organizations as well," the official at the Indian interior ministry told Reuters.
But a spokesman for the frontline group told Reuters from Muzaffarabad, state capital of the Pakistan controlled part of the disputed state: "Jihad (holy war) is ordained by Allah, it has never stopped and it will never stop."
Jaish-e-Mohammad was set up by Pakistani cleric Maulana Masood Azhar who was one of three militants released by India in return for passengers of an Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in December 1999.
A spokesman in the port city of Karachi for the State Bank of Pakistan said it had not yet received a request to freeze assets from Washington.
"Upon receiving the request we will act accordingly," the spokesman added. The central bank last month advised local banks to freeze the accounts of 22 groups on Washington's request.
More than 30,000 people have died in the Kashmir revolt.
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