Lahore: Pakistan's government is all set to launch a crackdown on banned militant outfits and seminaries involved in militancy in the Punjab province as part of a "zero tolerance" approach to terrorism after the killing of 150 people in the Peshawar school attack.
For the first time, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his speech to nation on Thursday admitted presence of militants in Punjab, saying there will be "zero tolerance" for militancy in the nation's most populous province.
"We have completed mapping of registered and unregistered seminaries in the province and may initiate action against 10 per cent of them," Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada told reporters.
He said the intelligence reports said that 10 per cent of the seminaries were involved in militant activities.
"The government will check them and stop them from serving as breeding grounds for militancy," he said.
According to an intelligence report, there are at least 150 'sleeper cells' of sectarian terror group Lashkar -e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in Punjab, a province of 90 million people. Besides, some seminaries in south Punjab are also training militants.
Punjab PPP leader Raja Amer alleged that the Punjab government led by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the premier's brother, had "close links" with the LeJ and some other groups, therefore it earlier shied away from acting against the banned outfits.
He accused former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah, who is close to the Sharif family, of working as the "mouthpiece of the LeJ".
Former prime minister and PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani, whose son Ali Haider was kidnapped in Multan in May last year, had also alleged presence of 'Punjabi Taliban' in south Punjab. Haider is still being held by militants.
Intelligence reports say the security agencies need to check and nab the facilitators and sympathisers of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other terror groups in Punjab.
National outrage has forced the government to launch a nationwide campaign against militants after last week's deadly Taliban attack on a Peshawar school that killed 150 people, mostly children.