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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Pakistan asks Afghanistan to hunt Masood Azhar

In an extraordinary development, Islamabad has officially sent a letter to Kabul requesting that Maulana Masood Azhar, the founder of the outlawed religio-military group Jaish E Mohammad, be located, reported, and arrested (JEM).

The development comes after the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a Paris-based international watchdog, urged Islamabad to take action against some of the UN-designated terrorists. The Taliban-led Afghan administration has received a letter from the Pakistani government requesting the immediate arrest of Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The one-page document also identified two other Afghan provinces where Azhar is most likely concealed, namely Nangarhar and Kunar.

Islamabad is said to have supplied information about Masood Azhar’s alleged whereabouts in Afghanistan. When asked about this development, the Foreign Office spokeswoman declined to comment.

Read More: Can Pakistan lose Masood Azhar but win this lawfare?

“We have written a one-page letter to Afghan Foreign Ministry, asking them to locate, report and arrest Masood Azhar, as we believe that he is hiding somewhere in Afghanistan,” said a Foreign Office spokesperson.

When prompted for comment, the Foreign Office spokesman chose not to further address this development.

It is currently unknown whether Masood relocated to Afghanistan before or after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on August 15, 2021. The sources stated that the 15-member Financial Action Task Force (FATF) delegation, which had returned from a five-day visit to Islamabad, was also informed of Masood Azhar’s whereabouts in Afghanistan.

JEM had been officially outlawed in Islamabad since January 14, 2002, while Gen. Musharraf was in power. On May 10, 2019, the Interior Ministry banned two further organisations, the Al-Rehmat Trust in Bahawalpur and the Al-Furqan Trust in Karachi, following 17 years of JEM being prohibited.

As a suspected terrorist, former JEM leader Maulana Masood Azhar was still listed in Schedule 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1999. He is accused of organising numerous terrorist attacks across various locations. Azhar formed Jaish-e-Mohammad terror outfit after India set him free along with two other terrorists in exchange for passengers taken hostile after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked from Kathmandu and taken to Afghanistan’s Kandhar in December 1999.