LAHORE, Pakistan – Police say about 1,300 suspected militants have been arrested in a sweep of hideouts in Pakistan's largest province of Punjab.
The sweep comes despite the provincial law minister's defense of some groups designated as terrorist organizations and banned by Pakistan but resurrected under new names.
Rana Sanaullah also embraced some sectarian leaders whose groups have been accused of fomenting violence against minority Islamic sects, raising questions about his commitment to ridding Punjab of militants.
Two police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operations, said another 36 militants died in shootouts with police and in paramilitary operations since the sweep began last month.
In an interview, however, Sanaullah questioned the label of terrorist for anti-Indian militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has resurfaced as Jamaat ud Daawa.