ISLAMABAD, Dec 8: The government launched on Monday a countrywide crackdown on the banned jihadi outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and charity organisation Jamaatud Dawa.

Over two dozen people, including top Lashkar commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi wanted by India in connection with the Mumbai carnage, have been arrested.

The operation, which was started in Muzaffarbad on Sunday, will continue and officials expect more arrests in coming days.

“The operation is going on in Muzaffarbad and some other parts of the country and some arrests have been made, including a top man of Lashkar,” Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told Dawn.

“We do not want to go into details of the operation because of certain reasons and sensitivity of the matter,” he said.

Responding to a question, he said: “It is an intelligence-led operation in which not only army but all civil security agencies are taking part.”

Asked if the operation was conducted against the backdrop of the Mumbai tragedy and pressure from India and the United States, the spokesman said: “It is quite premature to establish links of the arrested persons with the Mumbai terrorist attacks.”

Answering another question, Gen Abbas said there was no timeframe for the operation and it will continue across the country till the desired results were achieved.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Police have ordered the sealing of all offices of Lashkar and Dawa. Raids have been conducted in many parts of the country, including Islamabad.

A senior security official, who didn’t want to be named, confirmed that Lashkar commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi had been arrested in the Muzaffarabad raid on Sunday night. Lakhvi is one of the suspects wanted by India in connection with the Mumbai rampage.

The strongest-ever action taken against the two outfits indicates that it is aimed at pacifying India and the US which have been calling for tough action against them.

A senior security official said that the operation in Muzaffarabad city suburbs against Lashkar-i-Taiba continued on Monday.

Jamaatud Dawa is not among the 12 organisations banned in Pakistan but it is an offshoot of Lashkar and is on the watch list.

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