No Confirmation That Chief Masood Azhar Is Detained

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Islamabad:  Pakistan has not informed India officially whether it has detained Maulana Masood Azhar – chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the terror group that launched a deadly attack earlier this month at the Pathankot Air Force base. Earlier this evening, Pakistani media reported that Azhar and his close relatives had been taken into protective custody two days ago.

But, Vikas Swaroop, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, said, “We have not received official word on detention of Masood Azhar.”.

It is highly unlikely, said government sources, that India will proceed with talks loosely set for Friday between the foreign secretaries of both countries. A decision will be taken on Thursday, after National Security Adviser Ajit Doval returns from Paris, said sources

India has strongly suggested in recent days that before the talks take place, Pakistan must take action against those who planned and executed the attack at Pathankot which killed seven military personnel and injured 22.

Prime Minster Narendra Modi told his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the phone last week that swift and decisive action is expected.  PM Sharif pledged his assistance on the investigation.

A statement from his office today said, “Several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, have been apprehended. The offices of the organization are also being traced and sealed.”

However, Pakistan has rejected some evidence furnished by India including phone numbers called by the terrorists from Pathankot. Islamabad has reportedly conveyed that those phone numbers are not registered in Pakistan.

Pakistan has said it is considering sending a team of officials to India to outside the investigation but Delhi had not indicated if this is acceptable.

The attack on Pathankot came a week after PM Modi made a surprise stop in Pakistan to visit Mr Sharif in a major and much-praised initiative to improve bilateral relations.

Jaish chief Azhar was arrested in Kashmir on 1994 but was released along with two other Pakistani terrorists in 1999 in return for 155 passengers held hostage in an Indian Airlines aircraft that was hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

 

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