Pakistan has taken control of 182 religious schools and detained more than 100 people as it intensifies its crackdown on banned militant organisations, the interior ministry said on Thursday.
“Law enforcement agencies have taken 121 people under preventive detention as of today,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that religious schools, hospitals, and ambulances were taken over.
Pakistan began a crackdown on militant groups this week amid growing international pressure in the wake of a bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir by a militant group based in Pakistan.
Islamabad denies aiding militants and says its push against banned outfits is unrelated to the Indian and global pressure.
However, Pakistan on Tuesday said it had begun a crackdown on militant groups, detaining 44 members of banned organizations including close relatives of the leader of a group blamed for a deadly bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir in February.
The interior ministry said it was a move to “speed up action against all proscribed organisations.’’
Officials said it was part of a long-planned drive against militant groups, not a response to Indian anger over what New Delhi calls Islamabad’s failure to rein in militant groups operating on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan is facing pressure from global powers to act against groups carrying out attacks in India, including Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which claimed responsibility for the February 14 attack that killed at least 40 paramilitary police.
The incident led to the most serious conflict in years between the nuclear-armed neighbours, with cross-border airstrikes and a brief dogfight over the skies of Kashmir.
Tension cooled when Pakistan returned a downed Indian pilot on Friday.
In a further sign that tensions were easing, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said a delegation would visit New Delhi next week to discuss an accord on Sikh pilgrims visiting holy sites in Pakistan.
On Tuesday, Pakistan placed two charities linked to Hafiz Saeed, founder of a militant organisation the U.S. and India have blamed for numerous deadly attacks, including a siege by gunmen in Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people, on the country’s official banned list.
The Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation charities were placed on the list after the government announced the restriction in February.
The U.S., Britain, and France proposed in February that the UN Security Council blacklist Azhar. The U.S. and Britain have urged Pakistan to deal with militant groups.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry announced a new order on Monday to update existing laws that deal with those on UN sanctions lists.