JeM’s Masood Azhar’s brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, 43 others of banned outfits detained: Pak
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 (Monday) to review the National Action Plan (NAP) and which was attended by all provincial governments.
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 camp 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.
Afridi said 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.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has put Pakistan on a tight deadline to stop terror funding and to act against terror organisations operating on its soil. The FATF is an international organisation that works to stop terror funding.
If it fails to act on its promises made to the FATF, Pakistan, which is already on the ‘grey’ list might find itself being blacklisted. Such a move would make it very difficult for Prime Minister Imran Khan to obtain loans from international funding institutions such as the World Bank.
Masood Azhar, a resident of Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province, had formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2000, a year after he was released by the NDA government in 1999 in exchange for the hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814. Masood Azhar, 50, has also 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.
Last year, the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) facility at Balakot in Pakistan, which was targeted by an Indian air strike on Tuesday, was the venue for a gathering at which top JeM leaders had extolled the role of the local madrasa in producing jihadi fighters who were sent to Jammu and Kashmir.
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.”