Thursday, January 15, 2009

President Bush gives a farewell address to the nation Thursday from the White House.

Delivering his farewell address from the White House, Bush called the approaching inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama a "moment of hope and pride" for the country. He said he is "filled with gratitude" for the opportunity to serve.

But he also cautioned Obama to be vigilant, warning that the gravest threat to the country continues to be another terrorist attack.

"We have faced danger and trial, and there's more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter and never fail," Bush said, reprising a line he delivered shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The outgoing president hailed the progress made in Afghanistan and Iraq during his two terms. He described his administration's military campaigns as a fight against murderous fanatics that the United States and its allies are winning. And he said he's always acted in the country's best interest, though there have been "setbacks" along the way.

"I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe. ... And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them," he said. "There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil."

Bush acknowledged "things I would do differently if given the chance." But he said: "I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions."

Bush said the country never wavered in promoting "human liberty, human rights, and human dignity." He delivered his address in front of an audience in the East Room of the White House.

Bush has made several appearances over the course of the week, defending his overall record as "solid" and declining to engage in what he called "self-pity." He has said the desire to protect the country always trumped a desire to be popular and appease his critics.

Bush, whose presidency has been assailed by criticism over his handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, said Thursday that Afghanistan has gone from a nation controlled by the oppressive Taliban to one promoting democracy and fighting terrorism. He said Iraq has gone "from a brutal dictatorship" to an "Arab democracy." He said Iraq has gone from an enemy to a friend of the United States.

He said the "only practical way" to protect Americans is to advance the causes of liberty and freedom so other nations do not fall into the hands of those who support terror.

"I have often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise," Bush said. "This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth."

The final months of Bush's presidency were marked by what's been called the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But Bush defended his decision to send billions of government dollars into the financial markets to safeguard the economy against collapse.

And he said the nation must continue to "engage the world."

"Our enemies are patient and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard," he said.

NWFP likely to have woman health minister

NOWSHERA: The NWFP would have first elected woman as minister for health after the PPP high command decided to implement the decisions of central executive committee to separately run the party and public offices.

According to a notification issued by the Pakistan People’s Party, PPP MPA Shazia Tehmas would get the portfolio of health ministry as the NWFP Minister for Health Syed Zahir Ali Shah was made provincial chief of the party.

Federal Minister Najmuddin Khan and NWFP Senior Minister Rahimdad Khan quit the party offices and were replaced by Dir District Nazim Ahmed Hassan Khan and Health Minister Zahir Ali Shah, respectively.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s Special Assistant Sardar Ali Khan and presidency spokesperson Farhatullah Babar confirmed to ‘The News’ that party and public offices had been separated. They said the process was initiated from the NWFP while it would be gradually implemented in other provinces as well.

ANP aims at major chunk of seats

PESHAWAR: The Awami National Party (ANP) is expected to get a major chunk of 11 Senate seats to be filled from the NWFP in March — probably more than what is numerically possible.With 48 members in the Frontier Assembly, the party is in a position to elect four members to the upper house of the parliament but ANP leaders are aiming at the double. “We are working on a strategy with our coalition partner PPP, whereupon the ANP will lend support to the PPP in other provinces in return for support to the ANP in NWFP. Besides, the party is also in contact with the independent MPAs and those from the smaller parties. We aim at around eight to nine Senate seats,” an ANP leader told The News wishing not to be named.While the ANP has sought applications for the party tickets till January 27, insiders claim the party leadership has already finalised at least eight names to be nominated by the party. They include Muhammad Azam Hoti, father of NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, ANP Provincial President Afrasiyab Khattak, President of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association Latif Afridi, Mohammad Adeel, outgoing senator Hashim Babar and Dr Humayun.Besides, the party leadership is also expected to invite nationalist leader Afzal Khan Lala for Senate election, as the veteran politician has resigned from the parliamentary politics. According to the party’s constitution, a member has to apply for the Senate ticket and the ANP leadership would try to convince the former parliamentarian to apply for the party ticket.Meanwhile, some senior parliamentarians of the ruling coalition in the NWFP, especially from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), have sought change in the procedure for Senate election and have supported election through show of hands instead of secret ballot.The PPP had failed to get even a single of its candidates elected to the Senate from the NWFP in 2006 despite having 11 members in the Frontier Assembly — enough to elect two members. In 2006, two independents — Gulzar Ahmad Khan and his son Waqar Ahmad Khan — were elected to the Senate from the NWFP instead. The ANP has two members in the Senate and got Ilyas Ahmad Bilour re-elected in 2006 despite being reduced to seven members in the previous assembly.A parliamentarian, who wished not to be named, said change in the procedure for the Senate election would bring an end to horse-trading. “Everywhere in the world, only direct elections are held through secret ballot while indirect elections are held through a show of hands,” he pointed out.

Afghan general dies in air crash

One of Afghanistan's top army officers and 12 other soldiers have been killed in a helicopter crash in the west of the country, the defence ministry says.

It said the helicopter carrying General Fazaludin Sayar crashed in Herat province because of bad weather.

Gen Sayar was one of the Afghan army's four regional commanders and in charge of the west of the country.

The delegation he was leading had been on its way to visit an army base in neighbouring Farah province.

Defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told AFP news agency that it was the army's worst crash since 2001.

According to some reports, Taleban fighters claimed they had shot the helicopter down - but the ministry denied this, saying it was an accident.

The BBC's Martin Patience, in Afghanistan, says the Afghan security forces are still heavily dependent on old Russian aircraft to transport their troops.

And he says questions have been raised about safety standards in the past.

The other people who died in the crash were reported to be the corps' operations chief, its telecommunications official, five bodyguards, four crew and the general's chief-of-staff.

Ban 'optimistic' of Gaza truce deal

UN and Arab diplomats have struggled to halt the war that has killed nearly 1,100 Gazans [AFP]
The United Nations secretary-general has said he is "reasonably optimistic" that the Israelis will accept a ceasefire deal with Hamas.

But Ban Ki-moon, speaking after meeting Israeli leaders in Tel Aviv, admitted "it may take a few more days to agree to a few more technical issues" and urged both sides of the conflict to "stop fighting now".

Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip, has told Egyptian negotiators it would agree to a truce in the Gaza Strip if Israel met certain conditions.

Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political leader of Hamas, his group's demands include a year-long, renewable ceasefire, the withdrawal of all Israel forces within five-to-seven days, and the immediate opening of all Gaza border crossings, backed by international guarantees they would stay open.

Israel insists Hamas must no longer be able to smuggle in weapons through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, and must end its rocket attacks on its southern towns.

Arab diplomacy

The office of Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, told him "the United States would be prepared to assist in solving the issue of smuggling".

Israeli leaders were expected to make decisions on the proposal on Thursday, after Israeli envoy Amos Gilad returned from a day-long trip to Cairo where he discussed the issue with Egyptian officials.

Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) leaders meeting in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on Thursday to discuss the crisis agreed to continue the deliberations at a summit in Kuwait on Monday.

The Saudi summit came a day after Qatar unveiled its own plan for an Arab League meeting on the war to be held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Friday.

"We all know it is shameful to discuss the national and human cost of Gaza that has now been stained with children's blood at the margin of a previously planned summit," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, said.

"We have renewed our invitation for an emergency Arab summit in Doha but, whenever quorum has been reached, it falls short again."

When asked about the Doha summit, Saudi officials said there was no quorum to convene it.

But some leaders have arrived in Doha for the summit, including president Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria.

Army fully prepared for challenges: COAS

Gen Kayani stresses ‘comprehensive national effort’ to tackle threats

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army is ready to deal with any threats to the country’s security, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani said on Thursday.

“Pakistan Army is fully prepared to meet the challenges,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted the COAS as saying while chairing the 62nd Formation Commanders’ Conference at the General Headquarters (GHQ).

Gen Kayani said such a threat could best be defeated through a comprehensive national effort.

All corps commanders, principal staff officers and formation commanders attended the conference.

The ISPR said the participants of the conference were briefed on the prevailing security environment. “The spirit of sacrifice and high morale of troops are a guarantee for the defence of the country,” the COAS said.

The commanders also reviewed the operational preparedness of Pakistan Army. Gen Kayani expressed satisfaction on the military commanders’ efforts in this regard.

Pakistan says 71 arrested in Mumbai crackdown

ISLAMABAD— Pakistan on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to root out extremists on its soil, saying it had so far arrested 71 people in a crackdown on banned groups in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
Earlier, interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters that Pakistan had arrested 124 members of an Islamic charity linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which New Delhi has blamed for the Mumbai carnage in late November.
But interior secretary Syed Kamal Shah later told AFP there had been a "mix-up" about the figures at the press conference, saying 71 people had been detained and another 124 placed under virtual house arrest.
"Those who are placed under surveillance cannot leave their homes or area without informing the authorities about it. This is stringent surveillance," Shah said, noting suspects were being watched under Pakistan's anti-terror act.
Malik said Pakistan was "very, very serious" about fighting extremism, saying the anti-terror fight was the "only option" for Islamabad.
The 71 people arrested are members of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, one of the country's biggest charities, but which is widely viewed as the political wing of LeT, banned here after an attack on the Indian parliament in late 2001.
The crackdown came in response to a UN Security Council resolution passed last month, describing Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a terror group.
Immediately after the resolution was passed, Pakistan placed the charity's leader Hafiz Saeed -- who is also the founder of LeT -- under house arrest and froze the group's assets.
Malik said Thursday the state had since shut down five Jamaat-ud-Dawa camps, blocked six websites and closed several madrassas, or religious schools.
The senior official said that Islamabad needed more information from India in order to proceed with its own probe into the attacks in Mumbai and eventual prosecution of suspects, but expressed solidarity with New Delhi.
"We are with you. We have given commitment to the international community. We have to fight our common enemy," Malik said.
"This is the time that Pakistan and India need to stick together," he said, but added: "We'll be needing more information."
Malik said a high-powered team from the Federal Investigation Agency -- Pakistan's FBI -- would review all material provided by India in connection with the Mumbai attacks, which killed 174 people including nine of the gunmen.
Islamabad "will inquire into this matter with full conviction," he told reporters.
Tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals escalated after India accused "official agencies" in Pakistan of involvement in the attacks -- a claim that authorities here have vehemently denied.
Islamabad has confirmed that the lone surviving gunman, who is in Indian custody, is a Pakistani national.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Tuesday that he did not believe the Pakistani state had directed the attacks -- a statement welcomed by Malik.
Miliband is due in Pakistan on Friday for talks with senior officials.

Hayden Says Al-Qaeda Now Less Welcome in Pakistan Tribal Areas

The tribal regions in northwest Pakistan have become a lot less welcoming to the al-Qaeda terrorist network and its allies, CIA Director Michael Hayden said today.

The Islamic militants are “beginning to realize, beginning to think, this is neither safe nor a haven,” Hayden said in a farewell interview with reporters at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

He said the agency and Pakistan’s military have put increasing pressure on al-Qaeda. The U.S. has carried out a series of missile strikes in recent months in these areas, and Hayden today said he’s seen progress “since last summer” in curbing the militants.

Al-Qaeda fighters sought shelter in this rugged mountainous region after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, which ousted the ruling Taliban militia. Hayden and other U.S. intelligence officials have said al-Qaeda and their Taliban supporters use bases there to plan and carry out attacks on coalition forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Hayden said that confronting al-Qaeda must remain a priority for the next CIA director. President-elect Barack Obama has nominated Leon Panetta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, for this post.

Obama said yesterday that al-Qaeda remains the top threat to national security and eliminating its bases of operation will continue to be a U.S. priority in his administration.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that they cannot create safe havens” from which to attack the U.S., Obama said. He spoke after getting briefed by Vice President-elect Joe Biden and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who just returned from a trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

PIA to start Peshawar-Kabul flights

PESHAWAR: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plans to start a weekly flight on the Peshawar-Kabul route from January 31.

With the beginning of the Peshawar-Kabul-Peshawar flight, a long standing demand would be met. In particular, traders and businessmen in Peshawar and Kabul had been demanding PIA flights linking the two cities.

The once-a-week flight will be scheduled on Saturdays. PIA already operates two flights a week between Islamabad and Kabul every Monday and Thursday.

Peshawar offers connecting flights to a number of cities in Pakistan and also to destinations in the Gulf and these flights would suit many Afghan passengers flying to Peshawar from Kabul. A number of airlines operate flights between Peshawar and Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Jeddah, Doha, etc.

Jet Ditches in Hudson; All Are Said Safe

A US Airways jetliner with 150 passengers and 5 crew members plunged into the icy Hudson River on Thursday afternoon less than five minutes after taking off from LaGuardia Airport. A spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said everyone on board escaped safely.

Moments after the plane, a twin jet Airbus A320 bound for Charlotte, N.C., crashed into the river, at least a half-dozen small craft converged on the crippled aircraft and rescued the freezing passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants.

“It would appear the pilot did a masterful job of landing in the river and making sure everybody got out,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at an early evening news conference. “I had a long conversation with the pilot, he walked the plane twice and made sure that everybody was out.”

Some of the passengers were taken to hospitals in New York and New Jersey, and several were treated for hypothermia after being plucked from the wings of the aircraft. It was one of the coldest days of the year in New York City, with the air temperature in the 20s and water temperature about 40 degrees.

A spokeswoman for the F.A.A., Laura J. Brown, said that a flock of birds had might have been sucked into the jet engines, but several aircraft manufactures said such occurrences are rare.

The two engines on the plane were manufactured by CFM International, a joint venture operated by General Electric and Snecma, a company based in France. A spokeswoman for CFM said she did not know the age of the engines or whether they had been involved in previous incidents.

Stunned and shivering passengers who were rescued from the jetliner described a frightening scene in the three minutes from takeoff to a hard landing into the river, and then a surprisingly controlled exit from the partly submerged aircraft.

Jeff Kolodjay, 31, who was traveling with his father and a brother and was seated over the left wing, said he heard the left engine blow.

"The left engine just blew and there were flames,” Mr. Kolodjay said. “It started smelling a lot like gasoline. The pilot got on and said, ‘You guys got to brace for a hard impact.’ That’s when everyone started to say their prayers. I got to give it to the pilot, he did a hell of a landing.”

Alberto Panero, another passenger, told CNN: “Within a couple of minutes all of a sudden you just heard a loud bang, and the plane shook a bit and immediately you could smell smoke, like fire. Although it didn’t seem like it was out of control we knew something was going on because we were turning back.”

Mr. Panero added: “We just hit, and somehow the plane just stayed afloat and we were able to get on the raft and, it’s just incredible right now that everyone’s still alive.”

Mr. Kolodjay said that the plane started taking on water soon after it hit the river. “It was filled up to our waist by the time we got off,” he said.

Accounts from witnesses, including those on the Weehawken Ferry who aided in the rescue, were equally gripping.

David Watta, a 42-year old vice president of Product Management at Shermans Travel Media, was heading home on the first ferry to reach the plane.

Mr. Watta said in a telephone interview that his ferry was diverted to the plane after about two minutes out of port.

"A lot of people were in shock, and a lot of people were freezing,” he said. “They loaded about fifty onto the boat, and we gave them our coats to warm them up and tried to comfort them. We were holding people, hugging them, reassuring them, holding there hands, warming them with our body heat. We tried to take them to the back of the ferry which was warmer because it was furthest from the entrance.

He added: “We provided cell phones so they could call loved ones, a lot of them were so cold that they couldn’t dial so we dialed for them. I would say that everyone on the ferry were heroes for the day, they were all civilians who stepped up in a time of need to help their fellow citizens.”

Ms. Brown of the F.A.A. said the plane took off from Runway 4 at LaGuardia, made a left turn after takeoff, which is standard procedure, and moments later glided to an unexpected stop on the icy, gray Hudson.

Port Imperial Ferry, which operates between Manhattan and Weehawken, shut down service during the rescue operation.

Coast Guard personnel rushed to the scene, from the stations in New York and Sandy Hook, N.J. In addition there were four helicopters dispatched from Atlantic City.

Most witnesses on the Manhattan side of the Hudson recalled an eerie sight of a plane flying too low over the Hudson River, sending chilling reminders of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Fulmer Duckworth, 41, an employee at the Bank of America who watched the incident unfold from the 29th floor of his building at West 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue. “It didn’t occur to me that it was a plane in the water.”

Mr. Duckworth said he saw the plane spin counterclockwise in the water, and then begin drifting down the river with the current. The plane had taken off at 3:26 p.m., and the tide was on its way out, pulling the downed craft south down the river as the number of blinking red lights on the river and the shoreline multiplied.

“Actually it looked like everybody was really calm, like on the subway platform when it’s really, really crowded, and everyone’s standing shoulder to shoulder,” he said. “Everyone was standing right up against each other on the wings.”

Witnesses said the plane, described by the manufacturer as a medium-range jetliner, floated for two or three minutes before it started to sink as it drifted downstream, its nose poking up.

“It didn’t break up at all,” Mr. Duckworth said. “Everything you could see looked perfectly intact, like you could take it out of the water and fly it.

Another witness, Matt Mireles, who sent an e-mail message to The New York Times, said that from the window of his Upper West Side apartment he saw white smoke trailing from the left engine shortly before it glided onto the icy gray water.

The Airbus has sold nearly 3,600 airplanes in the A320 series since it was introduced in 1988. There have been 19 major accidents and 631 fatalities. There have also been 33 non-fatal accidents involving engine failures, nose gear problems and minor collisions.

At the airport in Charlotte, where the flight was scheduled to arrive at 5:16 p.m. and then depart for Seattle at 6:10, the arrival board said the plane was still expected to arrive on time late into the afternoon.

But it would not.

“I just want to get warm and grab my family,” Mr. Kolodjay said as he stood on the promenade at 12th Avenue and 40th Street, blowing on his hands.

U.N. compound ablaze in Gaza fighting

Fighting near U.N. relief agency's HQ in Gaza City sets compound ablaze
Main U.N. aid agency in Gaza calls for Israel and Hamas to stop 20-day war
Israel, Hamas have refused Security Council resolution calling for cease-fire
More than 1,000 Palestinians killed, nearly 5,000 wounded in conflict
GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in Gaza City set part of a U.N. relief agency's central storehouse for humanitarian aid ablaze, its director said Thursday.

The fire left black smoke hanging over Gaza City, and there was no way to control the fire, said John Ging, the head of operations in Gaza for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

"It's a very big fire, and we're not able to get it under control at the moment," he said. With gun battles going on around the facility, "the emergency services are not able to get to us."

The compound was hit by shrapnel and tank fire during clashes Thursday morning, Ging said. Three workers were hurt, and the compound's warehouse and workshop were burning out of control within an hour and a half, he said. Watch as fire blazes at U.N. compound »

"What we've had all night and into this morning is a relentless bombardment of this area by artillery fire, which is coming from kilometers away, and by tank fire," he said. He said staffers identified the source of the fires as white phosphorous shells, whose use is restricted under international law.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the allegation. But the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using white phosphorous shells in Gaza during its campaign against Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.

The group said that while the use of white phosphorus to obscure military movements is "a permissible use in principle," the substance can burn civilians and start fires in the densely populated region.

The Israel Defense Forces initially denied using the ordnance. But by Monday, Israeli officials said only that any shells fired in Gaza "are in accordance with international law."

Aid workers were already warning that the new fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas threatened to bring about a humanitarian disaster. Following the last two days of bombardment, the private relief agency CARE announced it was canceling its distribution of food and medical aid to the territory during Thursday's fighting as well. Read an aid worker's diary

"Desperately needed supplies are ready to be distributed today, but we cannot reach the people in need because of the bombing," Martha Myers, the charity's director in the Palestinian territories, said in a written statement.

And the Foreign Press Association said international news agency offices in Gaza City was hit by Israeli fire Thursday and demanded Israel stop shooting at the building that houses them.

"We note that these buildings are well known landmarks in Gaza and that the IDF has been clearly notified of their location on several occasions," the agency said.

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said the agency had urged Israel to stop fighting nearby, but had no response. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in the region for talks aimed at ending the now 20-day war, was meeting Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as the fire burned.

Gunness urged both Israel and Hamas, which has been firing rockets into southern Israel, to heed the "conscience of the world" and comply with a U.N. resolution calling for a cease-fire.

But he added: "I'm standing looking over the town of Beit Hanoun, and with every dull thud and every plume of smoke that comes out of there, it's sad to say that the parties on the ground are not listening."

Israeli aircraft struck 70 targets in Gaza overnight, the Israel Defense Forces reported Thursday, while fighting on the ground left 11 Israeli troops wounded. The military said about 35 armed Palestinian fighters were wounded or killed in those clashes, mostly by airstrikes.

The Israeli military has been halting its bombardment for daily three-hour stretches to allow trucks loaded with food, fuel and medical supplies to enter the territory. It said it planned to let 170 trucks through the border on Thursday, and announced the appointment of an army officer, Brig. Gen. Shimi Daniel, to coordinate humanitarian efforts. Watch as civilians suffer most »

Israel launched its campaign against Gaza on December 27 in an effort to halt the firing of rockets at its southern cities. That fire persisted Thursday, with at least 10 rockets or mortar shells striking Israeli territory, the IDF reported.

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 5,000 wounded since the conflict began, Palestinian officials said Wednesday. Israel said 10 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed and more than 100 soldiers have been wounded.

Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and has been designated a terrorist organization by the Israeli government, the United States and the European Union. A top official of the movement, which won Palestinian elections in 2006, said Wednesday it would accept a cease-fire only if the Jewish state withdraws from Gaza and lifts its economic blockade of the territory.

The issue has split the Arab nations into two camps: Those, like Egypt, who want an end to Hamas' political influence, and others, like Qatar, who are more sympathetic to the movement.

Pakistan arrests over Mumbai attack

Pakistani security forces have arrested scores of members of a charity suspected to be linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the group blamed for the Mumbai attacks.

Rehman Malik, who holds ministerial rank in the interior ministry, said on Thursday that 124 people have been arrested.

"We are very, very serious" about fighting extremism, Malik told a press conference, saying the anti-terror fight was the "only option" for Pakistan.

The people arrested are members of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, one of the country's biggest charities, but which is widely viewed as the political wing of the LeT, banned in Pakistan since an attack on the Indian parliament in late 2001.

The crackdown came in response to a UN Security Council resolution passed last month, describing Jamaat-ud-Dawa as a "terror group".

Malik also said that Islamabad needed more information from India in order to proceed with its own investigations into last November's attack on the Indian financial capital.

"This is the time that Pakistan and India need to stick together," he said. "We'll be needing more information."

More than 170 people died when several locations in Mumbai, including two famous hotels, came under simultaneous attacks.