The black-and-white flag of Jamaat-ud-Dawa still flutters over a relief camp for survivors of an earthquake that hit a remote corner of Pakistan in October.
But bearded medics who work with the group had vanished from the huddle of tents and mud huts when a half-dozen police showed up to close the operation following allegations the charity was linked to militants blamed for the deadly Mumbai attacks in India.
How Pakistan deals with the Islamic group — popular among many for its aid to the needy — is a key test of its pledge to help investigate the Mumbai tragedy and, more broadly, to prevent militants from using its soil to attack both India and Afghanistan.
The U.S. and the U.N. say Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group India says trained and sent the gunmen who attacked India’s commercial capital last month, killing 164 people and straining what had been improved relations between the countries.
Lashkar-e-Taiba has been an unofficial ally of the Pakistan army in Kashmir, a disputed territory claimed by both India and Pakistan.
Some believe the moment has come for Pakistan, which also backed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, to make clear it has abandoned a shadowy policy of using militant proxies as a foreign policy tool.
The country stands before a “moment of change in people’s attitudes and thinking” toward militants, Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday in Islamabad.
Pakistan must see that Lashkar-e-Taiba has “morphed into a more al-Qaida-esque and radicalized entity” that is damaging the country’s interests, said Kerry, incoming chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) (L), designated head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, talks with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad December 16, 2008.REUTERS/Mian Khursheed (PAKISTAN)