Islamabad: Pakistan has arrested 71 people in a crackdown on groups allegedly linked to the Mumbai attacks, officials said on Thursday, while adding that the information India has handed over needs work before it can be used as evidence in court.
Still, Interior Minister Rehman Malik dodged a question on whether he was conceding that the plot - which killed 164 people in India's commercial capital and raised tension between the nuclear-armed rivals - was hatched on Pakistani soil.
India says Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, masterminded the November attack. In the days afterward, the UN Security Council declared that Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a charity in Pakistan, was merely a front for the outlawed militant organisation.
UNDER PRESSURE: Rehman Malik dodged questions on whether he was conceding that the plot was hatched in Pakistan.
On Thursday, the Interior Ministry said 71 leaders of the groups had been arrested since then - nearly a score more than previously announced. Another 124 have been placed under surveillance and must register their every move with police.
Ministry chief Rehman Malik initially said that 124 people had been detained. But his deputy, Kamal Shah, later told The Associated Press that Malik had misspoken.
Malik said authorities also had moved against 20 offices, 94 schools, two libraries and six Web sites linked to the charity. He said authorities had shut more than a dozen relief camps of the charity, some of which have been alleged to be militant training grounds.
Among those under house arrest is Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. Also in custody are Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, two men India alleges planned the Mumbai attacks.
Malik repeated Islamabad's call for a joint investigation into the attacks and urged India to hand over more information to assist Pakistan's own probe.
"We are fully committed to help India in this investigation," he said. "We have to prove to the world that India and Pakistan stand together against the terrorists because they are the common enemies."
On January 5, India handed Pakistan a dossier of evidence including information on interrogations, weapons and data gleaned from satellite phones used by the attackers.
India said the material proved Pakistan-based militants plotted and executed the attacks and has repeatedly insinuated that Pakistani intelligence agents were involved.
Pakistan denies that. However, it is under strong pressure from countries including the United States and Britain, whose citizens were among the dead in Mumbai, to clamp down Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Pakistan has used the group in the past as a proxy force against India in their struggle over Kashmir. Washington says the group has developed ties to al-Qaeda.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in Mumbai on Thursday that Pakistan, a front-line ally of the West also against the al-Qaeda and the Taliban, must show "zero tolerance" for all terror networks on its soil.
Miliband plans to visit Pakistan in the coming days.