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December 25, 2001
1425 IST

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Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar arrested

K J M Varma in Islamabad

Under intense international pressure to act against terrorist groups, Pakistan government on Tuesday arrested Maulana Masood Azhar, chief of Jaish-E-Muhammad, one of the outfits involved in the December 13 attack on Parliament.

Azhar was arrested by the Punjab provincial government for delivering "provocative speeches and disturbing law and order," official news agency APP said.

The arrest came close on the heels of India's recalling of its High Commissioner to Pakistan Vijay K Nambiar protesting Islamabad's reluctance to crack down on Jaish and Lashkar-e-Taiba, the other terrorist group involved in the terrorist strike.

The United States and Britain had also sent demarche to Pakistan asking the Pervez Musharraf regime to act against the terrorist outfits operating from Pakistani territory.

Azhar's arrest is the second major step Pakistan government has taken against terrorist groups. Pakistan's central bank yesterday froze the assets of LeT.

Police had earlier briefly detained Azhar on Dec 23 and released him after questioning him for a few hours, according to the editor of Urdu daily Ausaf, Hamid Mir, who spoke to Azhar.

Mir said Azhar contacted him on Monday and informed him about his detention.

Azhar was freed by the Indian government in return for the safety of passengers on board the Indian Airlines plane hijacked to Kandahar in December 1999.

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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