On Tuesday, authorities said they detained 44 members of banned organizations, including the son and brother of Masood Azhar, the leader of militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
JeM claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Pulwama in Indian-controlled Kashmir on February 14, which resulted in the deaths of 40 Indian troops and precipitated the current escalation in tensions between the two nuclear-armed powers.
Speaking to CNN, Pakistan’s military spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, said that any clamp-down on militants was part of an ongoing domestic policy.
“We are not doing anything under anyone’s pressure,” Ghafoor said Tuesday, adding that Pakistan would root out “anybody who operates from Pakistan … we feel that it is not in the interest of Pakistan.”
The detained militants — Masood Azhar’s brother Mufti Abdur Rauf and son Hammad Azhar — were named in a dossier that India had sent to Pakistan in the wake of the Kashmir bombing and were being held in what Pakistan called “preventive custody” as there was no “actionable proof” against them, Islamabad’s Ministry of Interior Secretary Azam Khan said to reporters Tuesday.
According to India’s Foreign Ministry, the dossier contains specific details of JeM complicity in the Pulwama terror attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan.
“He is unwell to the extent that he cannot leave his house,” he said.
‘Eyeballs to eyeballs’ along the border
The Pulwama attack prompted retaliatory measures by India, which said last week that it had struck a JeM camp within Pakistan. Pakistan disputes the existence of the camp but acknowledges that Indian jets had dropped a payload within its borders.
“Not even a single brick has been found there if there was infrastructure, and not even a dead body found there. Their claims are false,” Ghafoor said.
The two sides have been “eyeballs to eyeballs” in Kashmir, he said, and that it was now “up to India” to “move forward towards de-escalation.”
“Should they decide to escalate more, this situation will go bad,” Ghafoor said.
The freezing and seizure order complies with the UN Security Council requirement that member states target the assets of entities and individuals listed by the sanctions committee.
Jaish-e-Mohammed, which translates to the Army of the Prophet Mohammed, is a Pakistan-based group that operates on both sides of the border of the disputed state and seeks to unite the Indian-controlled area of Kashmir with Pakistan.
While the US and the UN Security Council (UNSC) listed JeM as a terrorist organization in 2001, the effort to include its leader, Masood Azhar, as an “internationally designated terrorist” was vetoed by China in the past.