Amid international pressure to take ‘swift and harsh action’ on terrorists groups, Pakistan has began its crackdown on Islamist militant groups arresting the 44 members of a banned outfit including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s son, Hamad Azhar, and brother Mufti Abdul Raoof. JeM was behind the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in Kashmir which claimed the lives of over 40 CRPF soldiers.
The Minister of State for Interior, Shahryar Afridi maintained that Islamabad’s action did not mean that it is under foreign pressures to make the arrests. Over the past couple of weeks, France, UK, Australia, and the United States have called on Pakistan to deal with the militant groups. The Interior Ministry released a statement highlighting the detention as a ‘speed up action against all proscribed organizations’. However, officials rebuffed this move as response to India anger.
Two weeks after the Pulwana terror attack, on February 26, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had carried out a pre-emptive action on JeM training camp in Balakot across the border. Within hours, Pakistan retaliated and downed two IAF aircraft to demonstrate the country’s ‘right, will and capability of self-defence’.
India has continued with its stance on terrorism and last week handed over the dossier which included the names of Hamad Azhar and Abdul Raoof. The Pakistani Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan confirmed the arrests.
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He said “We have taken some people into protective custody and we will investigate it. The persons would be held for 14 days and would be prosecuted if evidence was found against them.” However, Khan added that the dossier did not provide the any actionable evidence.
Pakistan has also taken steps to ban Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF). Islamabad has passed a regulation ordering freezing and seizure of assets of armed groups that have been sanctioned by the United Nations. While these latest move are laudable only time will tell how Pakistan is serious in reining in terror outfits.