1,300 sus­pected mil­i­tants ar­rested in Pak­istan crack­down

New Straits Times - - World -

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.

EPA PIC

Pak­istani se­cu­rity of­fi­cials show­ing sus­pected mil­i­tants with seized weapons in the Khy­ber Agency on Thurs­day.

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