Politics

Masood Azhar, Other Jaish-e-Mohammed Militants Detained by Pakistan, Reports Say

Security beefed up at Pathankot Air Force Base during PM Narendra Modi's visit following an attack by terrorists on the base. Credit: PTI

Security beefed up at Pathankot Air Force Base during PM Narendra Modi’s visit following an attack by terrorists on the base. Credit: PTI

Islamabad/New Delhi: Pakistan 

media said

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.”

File photo of Masood Azhar

File photo of Masood Azhar

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

  • S.Thiyagarajan

    Obviously the Modi govt. is at a loss on how to deal with Pak. They are on a Yo-Yo ride kissing the Pak. soil one day and cancelling talks at all levels the next day. They donot have a clue of what Pak is thinking or going to do next. Pak is running circles areound the Modi govt. and taking it down the garden path. Pak talks in multiple voices and definitely the party whom the Modi govt. engages, Nawaz Sheriff, is not the ” authorised” person to talk on Indo-Pak or especially Kashmir issue. These subjects are dealt directly by the all powerful army chief, Gen.Raheel Sheriff, to whom India cannot talk because of protocol problems. This means India is talking to a wall. Modi thinks that he can settle the Kashmir issue single handedly without involving the even the foreign minister and HM which is ridiculous. The defence minister is trying to raise the war bugle by suggesting tit-far-tat. In the end Modi’s Pak policy has become a laughing matter in India and abroad. The stopover by Modi at Lahore and kissing Pak soil is absolutely unnecessary and shows him up as gullible. This is not the way foreign policy is conducted especially with perennial hostile neighbour like Pak. What is the necessity for Modi to “stopover” when already the process of engagement is on and moving. Pak has got a history of betrayal especially after a high profile conciliatory effort by India. Kargil after Lahore bus trip by Vajpayee and Pathankot after Modi’s stopover are but two examples. Peace process with Pak is a complicated and slow moving process which will take consistent and considerable effort by both parties. First we should define the term for the peace process, which we are not able to, even after so many years direct and track II diplomacy. The best and most practical and pragmatic solution for Kashmir imbroglio is to seriously consider Mr. Farook Abdullah’s idea of converting the LOC as the internatinal border and done with it. It is very clear that India is not going to take back the AZAD Kashmir or Pak is going annex the J&K. But it needs lot of courage, initiative and pragmatism of the leaders of both the countries to opt for this solution.

  • S.Thiyagarajan

    The talks by BJP loose cannons like Ram Madhav to talk of Akhand Bharat is absolute nonsense and only sows the seeds of trust in the minds of pak public. When India is struggling to manage the present 26 states, what is the point in being greedy about Akand Bharat. RSS should give up their fossilised ideas like Akhand Bharat if and try to improve the stauts of the weak and downtrodden.