Masood Azhar’s brother among 44 arrested in Pakistan crackdown

Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday arrested Mufti Abdur Rauf, the brother of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, along with 43 other members of banned Islamist outfits in a crackdown.

Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi announced the move at a press conference and insisted that the action was not the result of any pressure, the Pakistani media reported.

Hammad Azhar, reportedly a close relative of Masood Azhar, was also among those arrested in the crackdown, Afridi said, adding that action would be taken against all the proscribed organizations.

He added that a dossier shared by the Indian government with Pakistan last week also contained the names of Mufti Abdur Rauf and Hammad Azhar.

The News International daily cited senior Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir as saying that the crackdown was launched as part of a National Action Plan (NAP) and that the people arrested offered no resistance when law enforcers took them into custody.

He said the number of detainees would rise as the operation was expected to continue for days.

The crackdown came a day after the Pakistan government issued an order to streamline a process for the implementation of sanctions against individuals and entities of all banned outfits as designated by the UN Security Council.

Interpreting the order, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said it meant that the government had taken over the control of all proscribed outfits operating in the country.

He added that the government will also seize the charity wings and ambulances of such outfits.

The crackdown is being linked to the suicide bombing claimed by the JeM that killed 40 CRPF troopers in Kashmir on February 14 and the later IAF bombing of JeM’s biggest training camp at Balakot in Pakistan.