Pakistan begins crackdown on militant groups
CGTN

Pakistani authorities said on Tuesday they had begun a crackdown on Islamist militant groups, detaining 44 members of various armed groups, including close relatives of the leader of a group blamed for the deadly bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir on February 14.

The interior ministry said it was a move to "speed up action against all proscribed organizations." Officials said it was part of a long-planned drive against militant groups, not a response to Indian anger over what New Delhi calls Islamabad's failure to rein in militant groups operating on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan is facing pressure from international communities to act against groups carrying out attacks in India, including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which claimed responsibility for the February attack that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police.

The incident led to the most serious conflict in years between the neighboring countries, with cross-border air strikes and a brief dogfight over the skies of Kashmir. Tension cooled when Pakistan returned a downed Indian pilot on Friday.

A Pakistani Kashmiri woman is seen through a hole on the roof of a house caused by cross-border shelling at Dhanna village on the Line of Control, March 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

A Pakistani Kashmiri woman is seen through a hole on the roof of a house caused by cross-border shelling at Dhanna village on the Line of Control, March 5, 2019. /VCG Photo

In a further sign that tensions were easing, Pakistan's foreign ministry said a delegation would visit New Delhi next week to discuss an accord on Sikh pilgrims visiting holy sites in Pakistan.

The interior ministry said close relatives of JeM leader Masood Azhar had been detained in "preventive custody" as part of the crackdown. It named them as Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar, who one ministry official said was the leader's son.

On Tuesday, Pakistan placed two charities linked to Hafiz Saeed, founder of a militant organization the U.S. and India have blamed for numerous deadly attacks, including a siege by gunmen in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people, on the country's official banned list.

Some of the people detained were named by India in a dossier it gave to Pakistan after last month's bombing, interior secretary Azam Suleman said.

"We are investigating them and if we get more evidence, more proof against them, they will be proceeded against according to law, and if we don't get any proof, their detention will end," Suleman said.

Source(s): Reuters