U.S. says Pakistani 'charity' front for banned militants

(Reuters) – The U.S. State Department has named a self-proclaimed Pakistani charity as a “foreign terrorist organization”, a status that freezes any assets it has under U.S. jurisdiction.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa calls itself a humanitarian charity but is widely seen as a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), a Pakistan-based group accused of orchestrating attacks in India, including the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people.

The designation comes as NATO troops in Afghanistan are drawing down, and regional rivals Pakistan and India compete with each other for influence with Kabul.

Some fear the competition may spill into open conflict between the two nuclear-armed nations, who have fought three wars since independence.

Historically, Pakistan has used militant groups like LET to mount covert attacks on Indian soil, something the current government has vowed will not happen again.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s listing will prohibit U.S. entities or citizens from dealing with the organization, but will probably have little practical effect on its operations or fund raising.

The United Nations said in 2008 that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was a front for LET and Pakistani authorities vowed to crack down.

But Jamaat-ud-Dawa continues to operate openly in Pakistan. Its leader holds public rallies and gives interviews. The group says it is currently carrying out charitable work in the remote border region of North Waziristan to help residents displaced by military operations.

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