1,300 suspected militants arrested in Pakistan crackdown
About 1,300 suspected militants were arrested in a sweep of hideouts in Pakistan’s largest province of Punjab, police said yesterday.
The roughly two-week operation comes despite the provincial law minister’s defence of some groups designated as terrorist organisations and banned by Pakistan, but resurrected under new names.
Rana Sanaullah also embraced some sectarian leaders whose groups have been accused of fomenting violence against minority Islamic sects, raising questions about his commitment to ridding Punjab of militants.
Two police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operations, said another 36 militants had died in shootouts with police and in paramilitary operations since the sweep began last month.
However, Sanaullah questioned the usage of the label of terrorist for anti-Indian militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has resurfaced as Jamaat ud Daawa.
Last month, Pakistan placed Hafiz Saeed, a declared terrorist with a United States-imposed US$10 million (RM44.5 million) bounty on his head, under house arrest, yet Sanaullah questioned allegations against Saeed, who is connected mostly to militant attacks in Indian-held Kashmir, a Himalayan region whose ownership is contested by both Pakistan and India, and claimed by both in its entirety.
“They are related to Kashmir. They feel Indian brutality in Kashmir is unacceptable,” he said of Saeed and his followers, adding that Pakistan’s courts had twice freed Saeed saying there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorism activities.
Saeed is among India’s most wanted and is accused of masterminding attacks inside India and Indian-held Kashmir.
“Why is the world not concerned about India’s violence in Kashmir?” Sanaullah asked.
Pakistani security officials showing suspected militants with seized weapons in the Khyber Agency on Thursday.