Akhran da mureed
Pakistan today arrested Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother Abdul Rehman Rauf and “several individuals” belonging to the outfit and sealed JeM offices. While the arrest of “several individuals” was announced by the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office, there was no official word on Azhar’s detention.
Officials said Azhar and two other terrorists, who were released from an Indian prison in 1999 in exchange for 155 passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane, had been taken into protective custody after raids on several JeM offices.
The Foreign Secretary-level talks scheduled for this Friday appear unlikely despite the crackdown on the JeM. India believes the outfit was behind the Pathankot attacks. The office of Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif stated that Pakistan was considering sending a special investigation team to Pathankot in consultation with India.
Given the fact that Sharif has initiated some action in tracking the perpetrators of the Pathankot attacks, the sentiment within the Indian government seems to be to postpone the Foreign Secretary-level talks by a week or so, or have the National Security Advisers (NSA)s of the two countries meet first. An official decision is awaited.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar held a meeting this evening and updated the Prime Minister.
The statement issued by Sharif’s office at the end of a high-level meeting today read: “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.”
The meeting was attended by Ministers of Interior and Finance, the Punjab CM, Adviser on Foreign Affairs, COAS, DG of ISI, Corps Commander Lahore, Director-General of Intelligence Bureau and other senior civil, military and police officials. Significantly, the meeting was also attended by army chief Raheel Sharif and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar. Pakistan’s proposal to send a special investigation team to India also stems from the fact that ‘additional information would be required’ to take any further action against the JeM.
For India, the moot point could be whether Pakistan is willing to act against the JeM leader. Pakistan today said that “in line with our decision to counter and completely eliminate terrorism, Pakistan would remain engaged with India on this issue.”