ISLAMABAD, July 20: More than 200 suspected militants have been arrested in a nationwide crackdown launched on Tuesday. Those detained include a prominent leader of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Maulana Ali Sher Hyderi who was picked up in Khairpur.

The security forces have arrested about 200 people from all over the country,” Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao told CNN. He vowed that the arrests under anti-terrorism laws would continue.

“They have been arrested because they were spreading hatred ... which was causing unrest in society. We want peace in Pakistan and we want progress,” he said.

He stressed that the operation was an internal matter and not connected to the July 7 London bombing.

Earlier addressing a meeting at the interior ministry, Mr Sherpao directed law-enforcement agencies to intensity the operation and make it ‘result-oriented’.

“The operation will continue and it is high time to deal an effective blow on workers of proscribed organizations and those fanning hatred,” he said.

The meeting was attended by Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah, director-general Federal Investigation Agency, director-general National Police Bureau, director-general National Crisis Management Cell, home secretaries and police chiefs of the four provinces, AJK and Northern Areas and other officials of various agencies.

Mr Sherpao asked heads of provincial law-enforcement departments and police chiefs to closely monitor speeches made in mosques and seminaries and arrest anyone found involved in fanning hatred against other sects.

He directed the authorities concerned to send a weekly report to the government about the mosques and seminaries provoking religious hatred.

Mr Sherpao said that all literature inciting sectarianism must be confiscated and their writers, printers and publishers should be booked. “Zero tolerance will be shown by the authorities in this regard,” he added.

He asked the authorities concerned to enforce the law against display of arms in letter and in spirit and spare no-one violating the law. He also asked them to stop fund-raising by or for any proscribed organization and arrest anyone involved in this practice.

The minister also directed the heads of law-enforcement agencies to check street crimes like mobile phone snatching, kidnapping for ransom and rape.

“The crime rate is being strictly monitored and the authorities must adopt preventive measures for curbing crimes across the country,” he said.

He stressed the need for making police stations more vigilant to counter religious extremism. “The problem has become intolerable as extremist elements are harming the image of Muslim Ummah and Pakistan,” he said and added that such elements were giving a bad name to the nation and there was a dire need to promote the concept of Ittehad Bainul Muslimeen to create religious harmony.

PESHAWAR: According to a Dawn Bureau report from Peshawar, police arrested 42 people during the operation on Wednesday. However, the senior leadership of banned religious organizations went into hiding before the crackdown was launched at around 1.30pm.

In Peshawar, only a few militants were arrested, said a senior police official. He blamed the police of other provinces for starting the operation without informing the NWFP police, which provided the leaders of the banned organizations to escape.

Sources said that in the next phase of the operation, police would conduct raids on printing presses, seize hate material and arrest printers involved in circulating literature creating disharmony in society.

“On Friday we will be on the look-out for those who create sectarian hatred in society,” said a senior official.

According to officials, those arrested included Maulana Mohammad Ismail Darwish and Mujeeb Manzoor of the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Maulvi Abdul Haq of Khuddamul Islam, Dr Zulfiqar of Hizbul Tehrir, Abdul Malik of Khuddamul Islam, and M. Saud, reporter of a newspaper Roznama Islam.

In Dera Ismail Khan, Mohammad Aslam alias Aslami (SSP), Najmul Hasan alias Gulshah, Intizar Hussain, Nisar Hussain and Mujtaba Iqbal alias Bogha Shah were arrested. They all are local leaders of Tehrik-i-Jafria Pakistan.

The Kohat police arrested the local leader of Sipah-i-Mohammad, Syed Shabab Hussain, an activist Syed Ali Shah, and Niaz Ali and Bismillah of Jaish-i-Mohammad.

The Upper Dir district police arrested four leaders and activists of Tehrik-i-Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM) — Fazal Rehman, Mohammad Bazir Khan, Mohammad Yaar and Ali Haider. Five TNSM activists were also detained in Lower Dir — Toti Malik, Israrul Haq, Ghulam Said, Bacha Sardar and Mehmood Jan.

In Mansehra, local SSP leader Agha Azhar Hussain Sherazi and activists Maulvi Shafiqur Rehman and Maulvi Nazir were arrested.

The Charsadda police arrested Wahid Gul and Ijaz Ghuri of the Harkatul Mujahideen and Hashim Khan of Lashkar-i-Tayyiba Hashim.

Seven SSP activists were arrested by the Swat police from various villages and towns of the district. They are Mohammad Ayub, Jalal Husain, Ali Rehman, Altaf Hussain, Ghulam Omar, Amir Ahmad and Gul Nawab. One TNSM activist Riaz was arrested from Tohidabad area.

In Abbottabad, 10 office-bearers of the outlawed religious parties were arrested from different parts of the Hazara Range.

LAHORE: Police in Lahore picked up 11 members of the banned organizations and sealed four of their offices. Those arrested belonged to Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jaish-i-Mohammad, Lashkar-i-Taiba and Hizbul Tehrir.

DIG Tariq Saleem told Dawn that several suspected militants belonging to the outlawed groups had been rounded up. The police registered six cases on charges of misuse of loudspeaker and mosques.

In Multan, police rounded up 23 activists of the outlawed organizations.

DIG Malik Muhammad Iqbal told Dawn that 10 of the detained activists were arrested from Multan, 2 each from Pak Pattan and Khanewal, 3 from Lodhran, 6 from Vehari and 1 from Sahiwal.

He said that 22 cases – 17 in Sahiwal and 5 in Multan — had been registered for allegedly violating laws pertaining to use of loudspeakers.

Sources said that most of the arrested activists belong to the SSP. Prominent among the detainees were Shafiqur Rehman, Qari Ateeq, Rafiq Ahmed, Iftikhar Khara, Qari Ismail, Sagheer Ahmed, Hasan Sherazi, Zeeshan, Farooq, Irfan, Salim, Mulazim Hussain and Nazeer Ahmed.

In Faisalabad, special teams of police and secret agencies on Tuesday raided over two dozen seminaries and mosques in different parts of the district and rounded up 39 activists of banned organizations and students.

Eighteen young boys were taken into custody in a raid on Jamia Masjid Nimra in the Civil Lines area. The boys are said to be the students of the seminary adjacent to the mosque.

Raids were also conducted in Jaranwala, Samundri and Tandlianwala. Qari Muhammad Shafique was arrested from Jamia Masjid on Jhang Road, Muhammad Sajid Farooqi was picked up from a mosque on the General Bus Stand, Malik Fayyaz Ahmed from Chak 128-JB in Jaranwala and Syed Abdul Jabbar Naqvi was arrested from Chak 5.

A police source said that a total of 28 seminaries and mosques in the district had been pinpointed by secret agencies for the crackdown.

Sargodha police continued the swoop on Wednesday and arrested activists of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and the SSP.

Sources said that about one dozen people were arrested from Sargodha and Khushab districts, who were taken to undisclosed destinations. However, police neither denied nor confirmed the arrest.

The arrested suspects included Maulana Fateh Muhammad and Maulana Ilyas Ghuman, who were allegedly involved in the murder of Syed Tajamul Abbas, the then commissioner of the Sargodha division.

Six activists were arrested from Khushab, including Hafiz Muhammad Ismail, Maulana Bashir Ahmed, Maulana Muhammad Nisar and Maulana Abdul Sattar.

In Sialkot, prominent Shia leader Syed Mushtaq Kazmi was arrested from Daska Kalan locality on the charge of inciting sectarianism through publishing objectionable material. He was shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.

Official sources confirmed that offices of defunct militant organizations had been raided in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial, Mundeyki Goraya, Pasrur, Shakargarh, Zafarwal, Noorkot and Narowal.

Law-enforcement agencies confiscated a large number of books and CDs containing objectionable material.

Vehari police arrested nine activists of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi from various parts of the district. Police sources said many activists and office-bearers of banned organizations had gone underground.

The arrested people were identified as Qari Atteequr Rehman of Machiwal, Rafiq Ahmed, Hafiz Nazir of Mailsi, Iftikhar Ahmed alias Khara, Sagheer Ahmed of Mitro town, Qari Ismail of Hari Chand village, Abdul Rashid and Abu Bakr of Vehari.

QUETTA: At least 30 more people suspected of having links with extremist organizations were arrested when special police teams conducted raids in Quetta, Loralai and Nushki on Wednesday.

“We have arrested 60 suspects so far from Quetta and other parts of Balochistan over the last 24 hours,” a senior police officer said.

Among those held were Maulvi Hafiz Ghulam Frooq (Nushki) and Mohammad Ashraf and Mohammad Ali (Loralai).

Sources said similar raids had also been carried out in Mastung and Kalat.

Meanwhile, about two dozen detainees were set free after interrogation.

Hunt was on for the accused involved in the killing of a retired professor and injuring of a serving one of Bolan Medical College, police sources said.

HYDERABAD: Police rounded up around one dozen activists of banned militant organizations in pre-dawn raids in various parts of the city and Latifabad.

A police source confirmed that eight religious leaders had been detained and they would be released after obtaining bond from them, requiring them to limit their activities in the area of the police stations concerned.

Among those detained were Maulana Saeed Jadoon, Maulana Farooq Azad, Saiful Islam, Shamsuddin, Khuda Bux Siddiqui, Qari Mohammad Ashraf, Maulana Qutbuddin, Hafiz Rafi Mustafa, Mahmoodul Huda, Siddiqui Siraj and Hujatullah Jokhio.

In September, some 32 local leaders and activists of banned organizations were asked by police to deposit Rs500,000 solvent surety with the DPO (operations) Hyderabad as well as two guarantees of notables.

The National Crisis Management Cell of the ministry of interior, Islamabad, had issued standard operative procedures (SOP) to provincial home departments. Under such directives the person in question would not leave his area without obtaining written permission from the in-charge of the police station concerned.

On Tuesday night, the Fort police sealed Madarsul Ansal on Tulsidas Road and picked up one person.

Reports reaching from Tando Mohammad Khan said that Sohrab Farooqui, formerly of the SSP, was arrested.

In Khairpur, SSP’s chief patron Maulana Ali Sher Hyderi was arrested from his residence at Madressah Darul Uloom Jamia Hamadia Luqman.

According to the Madressah administration, Maulana Hyderi was detained at an unknown place.

Police also arrested Syed Munawar Shah, president of the banned Tehrik-i-Fiqah Jafria during a house raid.