ISLAMABAD - In a major crackdown, the government on Tuesday took “under observation” 44 activists of banned organisations.

The persons taken into preventive detention for investigation include two family members of Jash-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, according the interior ministry. They are Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hammad Azhar — the brother and son of JeM chief.

According to official sources, the matter of detaining Masood Azhar is under consideration and Prime Minister Imran Khan will take the final decision.

The action is being seen as part of Pakistan’s efforts to meet the requirements of global anti-money laundering watchdog – Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – to get off its grey list and ease escalation with India.

State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi and Secretary Interior Major (r) Azam Suleman Khan addressing a joint press conference at the Ministry of Interior said that an across the board action had been initiated against all militant organisations as part of the National Action Plan (NAP) on Counter Terrorism.

“In order to implement NAP, a high-level meeting was held in the Ministry of Interior on March 4, which was attended by representatives of all provincial governments,” said a separate statement issued by the ministry. It said that the meeting decided to speed up action against all proscribed organizations. “These actions will continue, as per the decisions taken in National Security Committee (NSC) while reviewing NAP.”

“This is across the board action and the impression should not be taken that that we are taking action against one organisation only,” said Secretary Interior Khan adding that this operation will continue.

He said that some people who have been taken into preventive detention — including Raoof and Azhar — are named in the dossier handed by India to Pakistan on the Pulwama attack. He again made it clear that action wasn’t being taken against only those individuals who have been mentioned in the dossier.

“India has not provided evidence to us through this dossier (on Pulwama attack),” said secretary interior adding that Pakistan had sought evidence from it. As long as some evidence does not come on surface, we have taken these people into preventive detention for investigation, he explained.

Action will be taken against these persons if we found some evidence against them, the secretary said. He further said that their detention could be suspended if the government did not find proof against them. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already said that they were ready to take action if India would provide evidence.

He also said that if the government had to take over assets of any banned outfit, it could do so. The government can take over assets banned organisations under the Anti Terrorism Act, 1997.

Responding a question that India media is quoting website of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) that Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-e-Insanyat Foundation (FIF) are still in the watch list and not yet proscribed, the secretary said that notification of their banning was being issued. “This is a procedural matter,” he said.

The NSC under the chair of Prime Minister Imran Khan in its February 21 meeting had decided to accelerate action against proscribed organisations and ordered banning of JuD and FIF.When asked to reveal more names of those detained, the secretary said: “We cannot reveal any more names at this point.” He also refused to comment whether JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed had been taken into protective custody or not.

 

 

 

 

India has blamed Pakistan for the suicide bombing in Pulwama district of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) that killed over 40 soldiers. Pakistan rejected the allegation asking India to share evidence.

State Minister for Interior Shehryyar Afridi said that the decision of detention of members of banned outfits was Pakistan’s own initiative and had not been taken under some foreign pressure. “This is our resolve that we won’t allow our soil to be used against any country,” he said adding that Pakistan had taken the decision as a pro-active approach.

The government on Monday notified its 2019 order of the United Nations Security Council to get a legal basis for freezing of properties owned by individuals and organisations designated by the council as terrorists.

Last month, FATF at the end of its Paris plenary said that Pakistan failed to demonstrate a proper understanding of terrorism financing risks posed by militant groups and urged it to implement 10-point action plan by May 2019 to remove its name from the grey list.

The FATF said that Pakistan had revised its Terrorism Financing (TF) risk assessment; however, it did not demonstrate a proper understanding of the terrorism financing risks posed by militant groups like “Da’esh, Al Qaeda, Jamaat-ud Dawa, Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Haqqani Network, and persons affiliated with the Taliban.”