Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday launched a massive crackdown against the madrassas run by the proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), suspected of masterminding the Pathankot airbase attack.
The crackdown in Punjab province, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's power base and the headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammad, follows the arrest this week of several members of the group, including its leader, Maulana Masood Azhar.
"Officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department raided the Jamiatul Nur seminary in the Daska area on Thursday and arrested more than a dozen people," Rana Sanaullah, the law minister of the Punjab province where Jaish-e-Mohammed is headquartered, said.
"The seminary has been sealed off and documents and literature have been confiscated from the premises."
Sanaullah said several other offices and seminaries run by Jaish-e-Mohammed had also been raided and shut down, with many of its staff arrested. He declined to share further details.
In a TV interview on Thursday, Sanaullah confirmed that Azhar had been taken into "protective custody" and said legal action would be taken against him if his involvement in the Pathankot attack was proved "beyond doubt."
JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, a hardliner who was blamed for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, was detained along with his brother and brother-in-law and will remain in protective custody for at least 30 days.
Authorities have arrested several members of JeM and sealed off their offices as Pakistan investigates Indian assertions that the January 2 attack, in which seven military personnel were killed, was the handwork of Pakistan-based militants.
Islamabad and New Delhi have already postponed the Foreign Secretary-level talks and are in contact to finalise a new date for the meeting.
Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Aizaz Chaudhry and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar were originally scheduled to meet in Islamabad on January 15.
Meanwhile, on Friday, President of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Sardar Muhammad Yaqub Khan, extended invitation to Hurriyat leaders to attend a two-day round table conference here to discuss various issues related to Kashmir dispute.
Yaqub Khan is holding a two-day round table conference on January 20 - 21 at Convention Centre, here. The issues expected to be discussed in the conference are ‘Kashmir Conflict: Its ramifications for Pak-India Relations and Peace’, ‘Kashmir Dispute, Hindutva and Emergence of Hindu Extremism in India’ and ‘Proposed abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A of Indian Constitution and its impact on Kashmir dispute.’
Hurriyat leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Aga Syed Hassan Al-Moosvi Al-Safvi, Mohammad Yousuf Naqash and others have been invited to attend the conference. Engineer Abdur Rashid and Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami have also received the invitation.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said they will not allow misuse of its territory against any country.
He further said that Pakistan wishes to move ahead for a comprehensive dialogue with India to resolve all issues.
India has demanded that Pakistan take action against the group and on Thursday announced that the two countries would reschedule talks between their foreign secretaries while the investigation into the air base attack was carried out....