Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has revealed that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar is in Afghanistan. Pakistani minister further added that Azhar no longer remains an issue only between India and Pakistan and has become a trilateral issue between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Zardari's this statement comes days after the Taliban denied the JeM chief's presence in Afghanistan. Moreover, Pakistan had also sent a letter to the Taliban government demanding to hand Azhar over to Islamabad.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, on Wednesday, firmly rejected Pakistani media reports about the presence of Masood Azhar in the war-torn country and said that such terrorist organisations can operate on Pakistan’s soil and even under official patronage.
In addition to this, Pakistan also formally raised the issue of the presence of an UN-designated terrorist in Afghanistan with the Afghan officials, a day after the Taliban government rejected reports about the presence of Azhar in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed, at a weekly briefing, said, ”The person is a proclaimed offender and wanted in numerous terrorism-related cases in Pakistan.” He added that Pakistani authorities have formally raised the issue of the presence of the UN-designated individual with the relevant Afghan interlocutors on multiple occasions.
The spokesperson also urged the Afghan interim authorities to take concert and verifiable actions to deliver on the assurances they have given to the international community that they will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against any country.
Masood Azhar is a fugitive released by India in exchange for passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999. He was serving a prison term for kidnappings of Western tourists in India. After getting released, Azhar formed the JeM and scripted many audacious terror strikes in India.
Pakistan has banned the JeM, which is accused by India of several terrorist attacks - including the Pulwama attack in February 2019. In May 2019, the United Nations designated Azhar a "global terrorist" after China lifted its hold on a proposal to blacklist the Pakistan-based JeM chief.
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