Banned militant groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba have joined hands with the Taliban and Al-Qaida to destabilise Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Sunday.
The Taliban and its allied groups had adopted a new strategy after the successful military operations in the Swat valley and the tribal areas and were now trying to "spread anarchy" and trigger infighting among different sects, Malik told reporters after visiting one of two Ahmedi mosques that were attacked by heavily armed terrorists in Lahore on Friday.
Members of banned groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammed who fled Punjab had gone to the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and received training there, he said.
They then came back to Punjab and became part of sleeper cells, he added.
"These forces are working to destabilise Pakistan... Those militants who were hiding in southern Punjab are now surfacing," he said.
"I have been saying for the last one year that these people (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba and Jaish-e -Mohammed) are enemies of the country and are part of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al Qaida," he said.
Ninety-five people were killed and over 100 injured when two groups of terrorists attacked the Ahmedi mosques last week.
The Punjabi Taliban claimed responsibility for the carnage.
Malik said authorities also had information that the militants could attack the minority Shia community.
The militants in southern Punjab had established links in Balochistan province and they had tried to trigger clashes between Deobandis and Barelvis in the southern port city of Karachi before attacking the Ahmedis in Lahore, he said.
Members of the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba, a notorious sectarian group, were involved in attacks on the minority Christian community at Gojra in Punjab in July last year, he said.
Malik parried questions on why the federal government was not taking action against groups in southern Punjab, saying this was a matter that should be tackled by the provincial administration.
He noted that 726 of the 1,764 members of banned groups wanted by authorities were from southern Punjab.
The region also accounted for 44 per cent of the country's madrassas or religious seminaries, he said.
Asked whether any neighbouring country was involved in Friday's attack on the Ahmedi mosques, Malik replied: "Till I get proof, I will not say (anything). When (Lahore) Commissioner (Khusro Pervez) said RAW is involved, I said if you have evidence give it to me. But I will not endorse this till I have solid evidence."