today that the government had
detained Masood Azhar and “several individuals” belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammed – the terror group suspected to have engineered the January 2 Pathankot attack in India – and had sealed its offices.
The move comes after India handed over evidence of the JeM’s complicity in the attack and linked “prompt and decisive” action by Pakistan on those leads to the fate of the foreign secretary-level talks originally set for January 15. The scheduled talks were to focus on resuming the bilateral dialogue process, and may well be held on schedule or after a few days to allow both sides to work on the agenda, if Pakistani media reports are correct. As of Wednesday night, Indian government officials said they had received no word from their Pakistani counterparts about Azhar’s status.
Pakistan is also considering sending a special investigation team to Pathankot as more information will be required to carry forward the process of cooperation with India.
Among those being held by the Pakistani side are Azhar’s brother, Abdur Rauf, and brother-in-law Ashfaq Ahmed – both accused by India of having masterminded the Pathankot attack. The two men along with Azhar have been taken into “protective custody” and are being held at an undisclosed location, the Pakistani newspaper, The News reported on Wednesday evening. Official Pakistani sources told The News that “the concerned authorities were interrogating them about the armed attack on Pathankot airbase.”The JeM, headed by Maulana Masood Azhar (of the 1999 Kandahar hijack episode), is believed by India to be behind the Pathankot terror attack in which seven security personnel were killed. A PMO statement issued after the meeting today said it noted with satisfaction Pakistan’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from its soil and its expressed national resolve to not allow its territory to be used for acts of terrorism.
It said “considerable progress has been made in the investigations being carried out against terrorist elements reportedly linked to the Pathankot incident. Based on initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed have been apprehended. The offices of the organisation are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are underway.”
In the spirit of cooperative approach, it was also decided that in order to carry the process forward, additional information would be required for which the government of Pakistan is considering sending a SIT to Pathankot in consultation with government of India, the statement continued. “The meeting reiterated that in line with our decision to counter and completely eliminate terrorism, Pakistan would remain engaged with India on this issue.”
Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, ISI Director-General Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Foreign Affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other senior officials attended the meeting.
Last week India put the ball squarely in Pakistan’s court, linking the FS-level talks to Islamabad’s “prompt and decisive” action in the Pathankot terror attack for which it has provided “actionable intelligence”. An official said that close to a dozen militants have been held so far and were being questioned. However, he refused to divulge more further information – such as about where the militants have been held or when they could be might before a court.
In the terror attack on Pathankot Air Force base that began on January 2, six militants were also eliminated in an operation that lasted four days.
Text of statement issued by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office on January 13, 2016:
A high level meeting chaired by the Prime Minister reviewed the prevailing security situation. The meeting was attended by Ministers of Interior and Finance, Chief Minister, Punjab, Advisor on Foreign Affairs, COAS, DG ISI, Corps Commander Lahore, Director General Intelligence Bureau and other senior civil, military and police officials.
The meeting noted with satisfaction that as part of Pakistan’s commitment to eliminate terrorism from our soil and the expressed national resolve not to allow our territory to be used for acts of terrorism anywhere, considerable progress has been made in the investigations being carried out against terrorist elements reportedly linked to the Pathankot incident.
Based on the initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, have been apprehended. The offices of the organisation are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are underway.
In the spirit of the cooperative approach, it was also decided that in order to carry the process forward, additional information would be required, for which the Government of Pakistan is considering to send a Special Investigation Team to Pathankot, in consultation with the Government of India.
The meeting reiterated that in line with our decision to counter and completely eliminate terrorism, Pakistan would remain engaged with India on this issue.
With inputs from PTI