Masood Azhar’s brother, son detained in crackdown against banned outfits

Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, addresses a press conference in Karachi on February 4, 2000. Photo: AFP

The government of Pakistan has taken 44 members of banned outfits, including Mufti Abdur Rauf and Hamza Azhar, the brother and son of Jaish-e-Muhammad’s chief Masood Azhar, into “preventive detention for investigation”, interior ministry officials said on Tuesday.

Interior Secretary Azam Salman told SAMAA TV that Hafiz Saeed’s Jama’at-ud-Da’wah and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation will be declared proscribed organisations within the next 24 hours.

JeM has been in the news for the last few weeks after a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a convoy of Indian soldiers in Pulwama in Indian-administered Kashmir. The attack was reportedly claimed by the JeM.

Related: Masood Azhar is in Pakistan but is very unwell, says Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

It brought Pakistan and Indian on the brink of war. Tensions between the two countries escalated further after Indian planes violated Pakistani airspace and released their payload inside Pakistan’s territory on February 26.

In response, Pakistan shot down two Indian planes in Kashmir on the very next day. One plane crashed in the Kohi Rata sector of Azad Kashmir while another in Indian-Administered Kashmir’s Budgam area. A pilot of the Indian Air Force, identified as Abhinandan, was also taken into custody. However, he was handed over to Indian authorities as a a gesture of peace.

JuD is another group which India alleges was involved in anti-India activities, including the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Minister of State for Interior Sheheryar Afridi, however, said that the government was not acting against the members of banned outfits under any pressure; neither would they do so in future.

He said that the action against the banned outfits would continue for two more weeks.

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