Pakistan Says It Has Taken Control Of 182 Religious Schools

Pakistan's government says it has taken control of 182 religious schools and detained more than 100 people as part of its crackdown against Islamist militants.

Provincial authorities have "taken in their control management and administration of 182 seminaries (madaris)," the Interior Ministry said in a March 7 statement, referring to religious schools.

"Law enforcement agencies have taken 121 people under preventive detention as of today," the statement said.

Pakistan has been under increasing international pressure to crack down on militant organizations carrying out attacks in India, including Jaish-e Muhammad (JeM), which claimed responsibility for an attack last month that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police.

However, the ministry said the move was part of a long-planned drive, not a response to international pressure.

Religious schools, which in many cases are the only form of education available to millions of poor children, are often blamed for radicalizing young Pakistanis.

Many banned groups such as JeM run religious schools. Another banned organization, Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD), which calls itself an Islamic charity, is believed to run some 300 religious schools across the country.

Both JeM and JuD have been designated as terrorist organizations by the United States.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal and Reuters