Indian dossier has no ‘evidence’, says Pakistan as it arrests Masood’s kin

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Islamabad, March 5 (IANS) A dossier submitted by India lacks “concrete evidence” linking Pakistan with the suicide bombing that killed 40 CRPF troopers, Islamabad said on Tuesday, as it arrested the brother and son of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar and 42 others as part of a crackdown on Islamist groups following intense diplomatic pressure.

The brother, Mufti Abdur Rauf, and Hammad Azhar, a son of the now reportedly ailing Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief, were among those whose names were mentioned in the dossier India handed over to Pakistan last week, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi said.

But Interior Ministry Secretary Azam Suleman Khan quickly added: “It does not mean that action is being taken against only those individuals who are mentioned in the dossier.

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“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.

Khan, however, claimed that the Indian dossier lacked concrete evidence against any member to link Pakistan and Pakistanis with the February 14 suicide bombing in Pulwama that led to Indian air strikes on JeM’s biggest training camp at Balakot in Pakistan, seriously straining bilateral ties.

Action will be taken against people if evidence was found during the investigations, he said. “In case we don’t find any evidence against them, we will release them.”

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The crackdown came a day after the Pakistan government issued an order to streamline a process for the implementation of sanctions against individuals and entities of all banned outfits as designated by the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Afridi insisted that the action was taken without any foreign pressure, the Pakistani media reported, but informed sources said that intense diplomatic pressure including from Pakistan’s close allies had forced Islamabad to crack the whip.

“In the first phase of our action we have taken 44 people into protective custody. We won’t let anyone use Pakistani soil against anyone so that no force can intervene in Pakistan’s domestic issues,” Afridi said.

The government also froze bank accounts and assets of the organisations banned by the UNSC.

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The Interior Ministry said that the actions will continue as per the decisions taken by the National Security Committee (NSC).

Secretary Khan said: “This is across the board – we don’t want to give the impression that we are against one organisation.”

Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal late Monday said that the government had taken over the control of all proscribed outfits operating in Pakistan.

“From now onwards, all kinds of assets and properties of all banned organisations will be in the government’s control,” Faisal had said, adding that the government will now also seize the charity wings and ambulances of such banned outfits.

–IANS

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