Pakistan detains Masood Azhar’s son and brother

Owing to global pressure for curbing the terror groups operating from its territory, the Government of Pakistan has detained 44 militants of Masood Azhar led Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The detained militants also include the son and brother of Masood Azhar – Hammad Azhar and Abdul Rauf Asghar alias Mufti Abdul Rauf respectively.

The names of Hammad Azhar and Mufti Abdul Rauf were categorically mentioned in the dossier provided by India to Pakistan. The dossier has all the details that confirm the involvement of JeM in the heinous Pulwama terror attack on February 14, 2019, which killed more than 40 Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) personnel in India. For the records, JeM has also admitted planning and executing the attack.

 Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar, the Operational Head of JeM reportedly lives in Bahawalpur. He has been charge sheeted by several Indian Investigative Agencies and was involved in the hijacking of Indian Airline flight IC 814 in 1999 to force the release of Masood Azhar from India’s prison.

 A media statement by Ministry of State for Interior, Pakistan said, “It was decided (at a meeting) to speed up action against all proscribed groups. In compliance, 44 under observation members of proscribed organisations, including Mufti Adbul Rauf and Hamad Azhar, have been taken in preventive detention for investigation.”

 Addressing a media briefing, the Minister of State for Interior – Shehryar Afridi and Ministry of Interior Secretary – Azam Suleman Khan said, “If we have to take over any [organisation’s] assets, we will do so. Assets can be taken over of organisations already declared as proscribed, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. If we obtain any further evidence or if we have to investigate any organisation, the government can take any organisation[‘s leaders] into custody at any time.”

However, the Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior – Shehryar Afridi has said that the arrests were not due to any global pressure but were in compliance to the decision taken by the high-level committee regarding National Action Plan (NAP).  The committee held its meeting on March 5, 2019 where it was decided that the Government will come down heavily on the forbidden terror groups. It was also decided that the crackdown on banned terror groups will continue for 2 weeks.

Besides, under the Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, the Government of Pakistan has also formally banned Hafiz Saeed’s terror group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its subsidiary Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FiF).

 As a matter of fact, JuD is the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) which carried out the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Hafiz Saeed has been designated as ‘global terrorist’ by the U.S Department of the Treasury in 2012. JuD’s network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance service. The two groups have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers.

 The Pakistan Government has also said that it has frozen assets of all UN designated organisations like JuD, FIF. Both JuD and FiF are in the list of 70 proscribed organisations.

However, Indian Security Agencies believe that there is every possibility that the detention is being done to provide security to these militants, especially after the retaliation by Indian Air Force in Balakot.

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