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Pakistan, fearing US visa ban, cracks down on militant group

ISLAMABAD — The sudden house arrest of a high-profile Islamist cleric in Pakistan on Monday sparked peaceful protests Tuesday by his followers, who condemned it as a government effort to appease the Trump administration after it banned visitors and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries over the weekend — and a top presidential aide hinted that Pakistan could be added to the list.

Supporters of Hafiz Saeed, the fiery leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa movement, contended that the move by Pakistani officials had also come at the behest of India, Pakistan’s Hindu-led rival and neighbor. The group zealously opposes India’s claim to the disputed Kashmir border region, and a previous militant group led by Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, was blamed for the 2008 terrorist siege that killed 164 people in the Indian city of Mumbai.


‘‘There was pressure coming from the US on Pakistani authorities to either arrest Hafiz Saeed or face the sanctions, and the government succumbed to that pressure,’’ Nadeem Awan, a spokesman for Saeed, said Tuesday.

Washington Post