Nov. 25, 2009 — -- One day before the first anniversary of the worst terror attacks in India's history, Pakistan today made its first formal charges against seven Pakistanis accused of planning and executing the assault that killed 166 in the southern city of Mumbai.
The men are members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group created in the late 1970s -- with the help of Pakistan's intelligence agency -- to attack in India and Afghanistan.
The case is being closely watched by U.S. and Indian authorities. They want to see how willing and able Pakistan is to crack down on militant groups it once supported.
In Washington, Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh praised the action but said Pakistan had not done enough to curb militants who use its soil to attack India.
"It is our strong feeling that the government of Pakistan could do more to bring to book people who are still roaming around in the country freely and to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism," Singh said.
Lashkar-e-Taiba was also held responsible for the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament in New Delhi, after which Pakistan banned the organization. Pakistan has also banned the group's charity arm, Jammat-ud-Dawa, but that group has been recreated under a new banner, Pakistani officials admit.
Some Pakistani officials also admit that Lashkar itself continues to recruit inside Pakistan.
The police chief in the largest city in southern Punjab, from where Lashkar and other jihadi groups recruit, acknowledged in an interview with ABC News earlier this year that militant groups had created a nexus from the tribal areas in Pakistan's northwest to the fertile farmlands near the Indian border in the east.
"They have been banned by the government, but they have their outfits, they changed their name, and they come through another organization, because the ideology is there," Saud Aziz, the Multan police chief, said. "You can't kill the ideology, you can't stop the ideology, unless measures are taken to convince them."
Mumbai Terrorist Attacks: Pakistan Files Charges
The charges were delayed by months, causing Indian officials to complain that Pakistan had decided not to confront militants based in its territory. Pakistan's interior minister had announced -- back in February -- that the government was holding the seven suspects. He said at the time that they would be charged imminently.
Those charged today include Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the operational commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Zarar Shah, considered a communications expert with the group.
U.S. and Indian investigators have found evidence that both Lakhvi and Shah communicated with the attackers as the three-day siege began. They were both arrested by Pakistani authorities during raids on militant camps in Kashmir.
All seven pleaded not guilty during the hearing, which was held in a high-security detention facility in Rawalpindi, a garrison city just outside of Islamabad.