The Pakistani government is clamping down on militant outfits that the UN views as terrorist groups. Previously, a Kashmir terror attack put the country on the brink of war with India.
Pakistan's Interior Ministry said Tuesday dozens of suspected militants were arrrested, in the latest crackdown on the outlawed Jaish-e-Mohammad group that India has blamed for a suicide attack nearly three weeks ago that killed 40 troops in Indian Kashmir.
Among the 44 arrested were Mufti Abdul Rauf, the brother of Jaish-e-Mohammad's leader, Masood Azhar.
The arrests come after authorities in Pakistan moved against the Islamist groups' finances, ordering a freeze of accounts and seizure of assets belonging to groups designated as terrorist by the UN Security Council.
The government will also seize charity wings and medical teams controlled by the banned organizations, the Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told Pakistani broadcaster DawnNewsTV.
The clampdown aims to "streamline the procedure for implementation of Security Council sanctions," according to Faisal.
In February, a Pakistan-based jihadi group Jaish-e-Mohammed killed over 40 Indian troops in Indian-controlled Kashmir, with India blaming Pakistan and citing "incontrovertible evidence" that Islamabad had a "direct hand" in the suicide attack.
Tensions have escalated in the following weeks, as India bombed a militant camp on Pakistan soil and Pakistan shot down an Indian plane. Islamabad subsequently freed the captured Indian pilot in a "peace gesture." The next day, ground troops also exchanged heavy fire in the disputed Kashmir region.
Larger crackdown brewing?
While Pakistan remained defiant towards India, the Islamabad government also signaled it would act against terror groups under pressure from abroad.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for the elimination of "militancy and extremism" and said the country could not be allowed to "become hostage to extremists."
Read more: What is Jaish-e-Mohammed?
On Monday, the nation's Interior Ministry also held a high-level meeting with representatives of all four provincial governments about a nationwide plan to crack down on terrorism which was first created in 2014. The provincial authorities were instructed "speed up" action against the groups at the meeting, according to an interior ministry representative.
However, a source "categorically denied" that the move against terror groups was in response to pressure from India. The unnamed official said the decision was made well before the latest Kashmir bombing.
"It was decided in… 2014 that there would be action against proscribed groups. That required strategic shift and such changes take time," the source was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.