Masood Azhar’s son, brother held in Pakistan crackdown

Lahore: Almost two weeks after announcing a ban on Jamat-ud-Dawa and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, Pakistan has formally banned the two groups led by 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed. The action comes just a day after Indian media reported that the two outfits continue to be only on the ‘watchlist’.

A notification issued by the country’s interior ministry stated on Tuesday that the two outfits have been moved to the list of banned outfits, which has 70 organisations. In what seems to be a crackdown, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar’s son and brother were among 44 members of banned militant outfits to be arrested by authorities in Pakistan on Tuesday.

The action came amid mounting global pressure on Islamabad to rein in terror groups operating on its soil. A dossier shared by India with Pakistan last week had contained both these names. But even as the arrests took place, Islamabad said the dossier submitted by India lacked “concrete evidence” that would link Pakistan with the suicide bombing at Pulwama.

While Hammad Azhar is Masood’s con, Mufti Abdur Rauf is his brother. A Pakistan minister, however, denied the action was not taken due to any pressure. He said the crackdown will continue for two weeks and action against the arrested members will be taken on the basis of evidence.

There is every possibility, however, that the detention could also be an attempt by the Pakistan Army to provide security to these terrorists, given the “fear psychosis” that has gripped Islamabad in the past few days following the IAF strike at Balakot, an official said.

The crackdown came a day after Pakistan on Monday promulgated a law to streamline the procedure for the implementation of the UN sanctions against individuals and organisations. Interpreting the order, Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said the order means that the government has taken over the control of assets and properties of all banned outfits operating in the country.

Pakistan is also under pressure from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing.The FATF in June last year placed Pakistan on its watch list in a bid to push the country to halt support for militant groups.

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