Terrorist Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and 43 others linked to banned outfits were detained by Pakistan government, a minister has said.
The order for their detention was issued on Tuesday, a day after a high-level meeting took place in Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior on March 4.
The order states, “It was decided to speed up action against all proscribed organisations. In compliance, 44 under-observation members of proscribed organisations, including Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar, have been taken in preventive detention for investigation. These actions will continue as per the decisions taken in National Security Committee (NSC), while reviewing National Action Plan.”
The move comes barely 10 days after an Indian Air Force strike at Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training camps in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26.
Addressing a press conference, the Pakistan Interior minister Shahryar Afridi refused to divulge the names of the detained individuals and said that the detained people will be investigated and if they are found involved in any terror activities, they will be charged and placed under arrest. He said that the crackdown, announced on March 4, will continue for two weeks.
He said that if there is proof of their complicity in any terror activities, the Pakistan government holds the right to seize the assets of the banned groups.
Among those present at the meeting at Madrassa Teleemul-Quran at Jaba Top in April 2018 were JeM chief Masood Azhar’s younger brother Abdul Rauf Asghar and his brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar alias Ustad Ghauri, according to a report in JeM’s journal al-Qalam, published around the time.
Asghar, who is also the deputy chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, is accused of having played a key role in planning the 2016 attack on Pathankot airbase. In the journal, he was quoted as telling the gathering: “The youth who rise from this madrassa have broken the arrogance of the mountains of Kashmir and lit the torch of jihad there, and they will, God willing, continue to keep it alight.”
The 50-year-old Azhar, who was released by the NDA government in 1999 in exchange of hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814, has been accused of being the mastermind of the 2001 Parliament attack, suicide attack on Jammu and Kashmir state assembly, attack on Pathankot IAF base and the latest Pulwama terror strike.