July 4, 2019 / 1:28 PM / 16 days ago

India says Pakistan's crackdown on militant group a 'cosmetic step'

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Thursday Pakistan’s announcement of a crackdown on Hafiz Saeed, leader of a group blamed for Islamist militant attacks on Mumbai in 2008, lacked sincerity and meant to mislead foreign governments.

FILE PHOTO: Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for the Indian Foreign Ministry, speaks during a media briefing in New Delhi, India, March 9, 2019. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain/File Photo

Pakistan said on Wednesday it had launched 23 cases against Saeed and 12 aides for using five trusts to collect funds and donations for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed by India and the United States for the assault in Mumbai that killed 166 people.

“Let us not get fooled by these cosmetic steps,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, told a regular press briefing.

“Pakistan’s sincerity to take action against terrorists and terror groups will be judged on the basis of their ability to demonstrate verifiable, credible and irreversible action against terror and terrorist groups operating on their soil.”

He said Pakistan’s declarations regarding its crackdown were meant to “hoodwink the international community”.

Pakistan has long faced pressure to crack down on militant groups in the country and has repeatedly denied accusations from India and the United States that it nurtures and supports them.

It says it is itself a victim of terrorism and is doing all it can to deal with the problem.

Its latest crackdown follows pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which placed Pakistan last year on its “gray list” of countries that have inadequate controls over money laundering and terrorism financing. It has said Pakistan could end up on its blacklist if it didn’t do more.

Saeed, designated a global terrorist by both the United Nations and United States, denies involvement in violence or funding militants, and has been freed by Pakistani courts after being detained at his home several times in the past.

Kumar, the Indian foreign ministry spokesman, also accused Pakistan of “double standards” for not acting against Dawood Ibrahim, a crime boss wanted in India for carrying out a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai in 1993 that killed 257 people.

India says Ibrahim is hiding in Pakistan, an assertion Pakistan denies.

“It’s very interesting that you claim you have taken action but when it comes to taking action against the people who we have demanded either you ignore, you go into a denial mode, you in fact even deny that they exist and they are present in your country,” Kumar said.

Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in NEW DELHI; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani/Mark Heinrich

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