Sending signals of a rethink, Islamabad Tuesday moved to assuage Delhi’s concerns on Pakistan-based terrorists by placing 44 “under-observation members of proscribed organisations” in “preventive detention” for investigation. The list included Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar who, Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn reported, are the brother and son of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar.
Mumbai 26/11 attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) — these were initially “under watch list” and Islamabad was criticised for going soft on UN-proscribed terrorist groups — too were
formally placed in the list of banned organisations Tuesday.
Pakistan also decided to return its envoy Sohail Mahmood to Delhi, and keep alive the Kartarpur corridor talks scheduled next week. The Pakistan delegation will travel to Delhi for the corridor talks on March 14 and the Indian team will travel to Islamabad on March 28, a Pakistan government statement said.
On the steps being taken against the terror outfits, the Ministry of Interior, in a statement, said: “In order to implement National Action Plan (NAP), a high-level meeting was held in the Ministry of Interior on March 4, attended by all representatives of all provincial governments. These actions will continue, as per the decisions taken in National Security Committee (NSC) while reviewing NAP.”
A day earlier, Pakistan had issued a United Nations Security Council (Freezing and Seizure) order to implement sanctions against designated terrorists and terrorist groups.
In an interview to Geo News, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “We had made political commitments under FATF, we have international obligations that we will take action. These decisions were taken much before Pulwama. That we have to move forward. People want verified action, what action we take will be verified. We have to take some real action.”
The government’s moves were confirmed by Pakistan’s Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi and Ministry of Interior Secretary Azam Suleman Khan at a press conference Tuesday. “This is across the board. We don’t want to give the impression that we are against one organisation,” Khan told the Pakistani media.
He acknowledged that some people who have been detained, including Raoof and Azhar, are named in the dossier handed by India to Pakistan on the Pulwama attack. “It does not mean that action is being taken against only those individuals who are mentioned in the dossier.”
“If we have to take over any (organisation’s) assets, we will do so. Assets can be taken over, of organisations already declared as proscribed, under the Anti Terrorism Act, 1997. If we obtain any further evidence or if we have to investigate any organisation, the government can take any organisation into custody at any time,” he said.
In New Delhi, sources looked at the developments with some “caution” and said similar action had been taken in the past without yielding results.
“We do not want Pakistan to pretend that they are taking steps, rather we want credible and verifiable action against terrorists and terrorist groups,” sources said.
Sources said Delhi does not want to see “words”, but in “Naya Pakistan, we want to see naya action.”
Raoof has been chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) along with Azhar for alleged involvement in the 2016 Pathankot air base attack.