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Pakistan pulls veil off Dawood face

New Delhi, Sept. 21 (PTI): Pakistan has for the first time admitted underworld don Dawood Ibrahim’s presence in the country and said he has acquired “substantial interests”, according to media reports.

Pakistan’s statement came after a recent blast at Kawish Crown Plaza, a Karachi business centre. For years, India has been claiming that Dawood is based in Karachi.

The inspector-general of Sindh police said the centre was “ostensibly owned by one Ahmed Jamal... but actually belonged to Dawood Ibrahim,” Pakistani journal The Herald said in a report.

“The IGP’s statement was backed the same day by the de facto Sindh home minister, Aftab Sheikh, who told reporters that the Mumbai mafioso had a ‘network from Mumbai to Karachi and was working in both countries’,” the report said.

“This was the first public admission from senior government functionaries that the Mumbai crime king, Dawood Ibrahim of the infamous D-company, may have acquired substantial interests in Pakistan’s business capital,” the journal said.

Sindh police suspect “growing friction between two international cartels” to have been behind the blast in Karachi.

Before this, Pakistan had been maintaining that no such person was present or operating in the country “either directly or through his proxies”, it added.

The Herald, quoting Pakistani intelligence sources, said the CBI had forwarded a detailed report to Pakistan, saying Dawood had acquired a new identity — Iqbal Seth alias Amer Sahib — Chhota Shakeel was Haji Mohammed while Tiger Memon was operating as Ahmed Jamil.

The CBI report also alleged that of the 10 passports Dawood has, two were issued by Pakistani authorities — one bearing the number G866537 was issued in Rawalpindi on August 12, 1991.

The journal quoted the CBI report as saying that both Dawood and Chhota Shakeel had recently taken up residence in Islamabad and were in the process of “selling off their properties located in various parts of Pakistan”.

Two of Dawood’s accomplices, Nasser Charsi and Fahim, “may be planning to join their boss in Islamabad”, it added.

“Irrespective of the truth in the Indian (CBI) allegations, there are indications that Pakistan may well be seeking a decisive end to the Dawood Ibrahim saga because of its potential for raising serious security issues — underscored by the blast at Kawish Crown Plaza,” The Herald stated.

While Pakistani authorities have repeatedly denied Indian claims, “the statements from the Sindh home minister and his IGP have at least established that Dawood Ibrahim, irrespective of where he draws protection from, indeed has business interests in Karachi and, perhaps, in other major Pakistani cities as well,” the journal said.

Although stories connected with the don could read like Bollywood fiction, “their impact is far from imaginary. Mumbai has already had a taste of the underworld’s power and destructive potential, and the Kawish Crown blasts may be an indication of what could lie in store for Karachi if the authorities do not move fast to put an end to this real life crime thriller”, it said.

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