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JeM chief Masood Azhar asks Pakistan to ‘open the path’ for terrorism against India

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar has asked the Pakistani government “to open the path” for terrorism and jihadist groups so that they can escalate their operations against India.

The Indian Express reported that in an appeal published in the current issue of al-Qalam, the Jaish weekly magazine, Azhar had said that “a lack of decisive decision-making” could rob Pakistan of a “historic opportunity” to take control over Kashmir.

A file photo of Masood Azhar. Reuters

A file photo of Masood Azhar. Reuters

“If nothing else, the government simply has to open the path for the mujahideen. Then, god willing, all the bitter memories of 1971 will be dissolved into the triumphant emotions of 2016,” the report quoted Azhar as saying.

“Consider India before and after the jihad in Kashmir…You will see a dramatic difference. In the course of this journey, which I have been an eyewitness to, I have seen India reduced from a serpent to an earthworm,” Azhar further said in the appeal.

Azhar’s anti-India remarks come after a leading Pakistani daily on Wednesday asked the civilian and military establishment why action against Azhar and JuD’s Hafiz Saeed was “danger” to the country’s national security.

The strong editorial in The Nation, considered close to the government and military establishment, came as a prominent journalist, Cyril Almeida, of Dawn was banned from leaving Pakistan because of his front-page report on a rift between the military and the civilian government over the military’s covert support to militant groups like the Haqqani network, Taliban and the LeT.

The editorial titled ‘How to Lose Friends And Alienate People‘ said the government and the military instead of taking actions against Azhar and Saeed was lecturing the press.

Azhar and Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, roam freely in Pakistan and are belived to have the protection of the military.

The daily said in its editorial that it was a “disturbing day when civilian and military top leadership meet to lecture the media on how to do their job.”

“Apparently, a barrage of online abuse, and three official denials were not enough to assuage tempers riled after Mr Almeida’s exclusive story in Dawn, detailing an unusual exchange between the very same civilian and military top brass that yesterday issued forth a statement on the violation of ‘universally acknowledged principles of reporting on national security issues’,” the editorial said.

“The report by Mr Almeida has been called ‘fabricated’, and ‘speculative reporting’. But the government and military top brass in yesterday’s meeting delivered no explanation for why government MNA’s are protesting the visible presence of banned outfits in Pakistan. Or why possible action against Masood Azhar, or Hafiz Saeed is a danger to ‘national security’. Or why Pakistan faces increasing isolation? We’re all ears.”

“Instead, how dare the government and military top brass lecture the press on how to do their job. How dare they treat a feted reporter like a criminal. And how dare they imply that they have either the right or the ability or the monopoly to declare what Pakistan’s ‘national interest’ is,” it said.

“And for Mr Almeida, nothing but solidarity. More power to you, and to your pen. The press stands with you,” it added.

With inputs from PTI

Uri attack: We will respond ‘at the time and place’ of our own choosing, says Army

New Delhi: The Army on Monday said it reserves the right to respond to any cross-border terror attack “at the time and place of our own choosing”, a day after the Uri strike that was blamed on a Pakistan-based terror outfit JeM sparking calls for exercising military options.

Soldiers stand outside the army base which was attacked. PTI

Soldiers stand outside the army base which was attacked. PTI

The Army also said it has the desired capability to respond to any blatant acts of aggression and violence as deemed appropriate by them. The remarks by Director General of Military Operations, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh came at a time when some security experts and political leaders have called for targeting terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir(PoK) after the attack that left 18 soldiers dead and over two dozen injured.

“The Indian Army has displayed considerable restraint while handling the terrorist situation both along the Line of Control and in hinterland. However, we have the desired capability to respond to such blatant acts of aggression and violence as deemed appropriate by us,” Lt Gen Singh said in a statement to the media at the South Block.

“We reserve the right to respond to any act of the adversary at the time and place of our own choosing,” he added. Lt Gen Singh’s remark was identical to the statement given by then Army chief Gen Bikram Singh in 2013 after the 8 January violation of the Line of Control(LoC) in which one jawan was beheaded and the other had his throat slit.

“We’ll give them a fitting reply…we will respond at a time and place of our choosing,” he had said. Following the Pathankot attack earlier this year, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had also said the same. However, top Army sources told PTI that action will be taken but nature and timing of it will not be revealed at the moment.

“There should be an element of surprise which is not there at the moment as Pakistan will be prepared for a retaliation. The Indian Army of course has its strategy in place and will do its job,” the sources said.

Once again, China blocks India’s bid at UN to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar

New Delhi: In a dramatic move, China has once again blocked India’s bid at the UN to ban JeM Chief Masood Azhar, the mastermind of the Pathankot terror attack.

According to highly placed sources in New Delhi, just hours before the deadline on Thursday, China requested the UN Committee, which is considering a ban on the chief of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), to keep on hold the designation.

After the attack on the IAF base at Pathankot on 2 January, India in February wrote to the UN calling for immediate action to list Azhar under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

Masood Azhar in a file photo. ReutersMasood Azhar in a file photo. Reuters

Masood Azhar in a file photo. Reuters

The submission was armed with strong evidence of the outfit’s terror activities and its role in the Pathankot attack that killed seven Indian military personnel.

India also told the UN Sanctions Committee that not listing Azhar would expose it and other countries in South Asia to threats from the terror group and its leader.

The India submission was considered by the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) for technical aspects of the evidence provided. The technical team then with the support of the US, UK and France had sent it to all the members, sources said.

All were told that if there are no objections the designation will be announced after the expiry of the deadline, the sources said.

“However, hours before the deadline, China requested the Committee to hold up the banning of the JeM chief,” the sources said.

According to other government sources, the Chinese action was in “consultation” with Pakistan, which is not on the UN Committee.

The UN had banned JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts to ban Azhar after the Mumbai terror attack also did not fructify as China, one of the five permanent members of the UN group with veto powers, didn’t allow the ban apparently at the behest of Pakistan again.

Pakistan media accuses India of being ‘reluctant to cooperate’ as JIT arrives in Pathankot

As the Pakistan Joint Investigation Team (JIT) arrived in Pathankot on Tuesday to probe the terror attack, which took place in January resulting in the death of seven military personnel, the Pakistani media said that India was reluctant to cooperate with Pakistan on the probe.

According to this report by Pakistani news channel Dunya News, Indian authorities showed “signs of reluctance” when the JIT asked them for information and evidence.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The report said that Indian authorities did not provide the JIT with any evidence when it asked for the recordings of the telephone calls of SP Salwinder Singh, his wife and other related persons and the IME numbers and copies of the three FIRs that had been filed after the attack.

“Sketches of the attackers, footage of the closed-circuit television, duty registers of the Border Security Force (BSF), details of the bank accounts, service records, post-mortem report of the driver who died in the car accident at the time of the incident and the FIR of that car’s snatching have not been given to the Pakistani investigation team,” said another report in Pakistani newspaper Daily Times.

The report further said that post-mortem and DNA reports of the terrorists involved and phone records and information about the commander of Pathankot airbase had not been given to the JIT.

The Dunya News report further claimed that the stances of the Indian government and BSF regarding the terror attack were contradicting each other.

Moreover, the report said that while Indian authorities had said that terrorists had entered the Pathankot airbase after climbing ten-feet walls, no ropes were found as evidence.

These claims by the Pakistani media come just a day after it was found that Pakistan’s electronic media regulatory body (PEMRA) on Sunday had released a statement for the Pakistani media, asking them to be “professional” and “responsible” when reporting on the Lahore attacks, unlike the Indian media.

“Pakistan needs to follow the example of professional handling of Brussels attacks by international media rather than following the footsteps of Indian media that is driven by crass commercialisation,” the statement had said.

JIT did not contradict NIA evidence

In fact, the Pakistani media’s claim that India was not cooperating with Pakistan also comes at a time when the JIT and Indian authorities agreed on a very crucial aspect of the probe.

Indian investigators on Monday had said that the visiting JIT officials did not “contradict” any of the evidence submitted by the NIA, according to IANS.

This evidence also “proves” India’s claims that the Pathankot attack on 2 January was planned in Pakistan and had a link to the Jaish-e-Mohammed and its chief Masood Azhar, the investigators had said.

“The fact that they did not contradict or made any adverse comment or observation is a positive sign,” the authorities had said.

Protests against the JIT visiting Pathankot

It is not just the Pakistani media though, which has had a sceptical perspective towards this probe. Opposition parties like AAP and Congress have accused the Modi government of “surrendering” to Pakistan.

“We are saying that Pathankot terror attack was Pakistan-sponsored. If it was Pakistan-sponsored attack, how can ISI probe against itself?” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said on Monday.

“By allowing an official Pakistani team to visit and investigate, BJP government has, for the first time, distinguished and, therefore, recognised that the Pakistani establishment does not have any role in perpetuating terror in India, more so in the context of Pathankot terror attack,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said.

Congress workers on Tuesday were even protesting with black flags outside the Pathankot airbase, shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai“.

Limited access to the JIT

These protests against the JIT took place despite Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar saying on Monday that the defence ministry had “not permitted” the visiting team into the Indian Air Force base and that the crime scene, handed over to the NIA, had been isolated.

The IAF base will be visually barricaded by NIA to prevent any view of critical areas.

The NIA team will, however, show some of the areas to the JIT where the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists engaged in an 80-hour-long gun battle with security personnel.

The five-member Pakistani JIT is headed by Chief of Punjab’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Muhammad Tahir Rai and comprises Lahore’s Deputy Director General, Intelligence Bureau, Mohammad Azim Arshad, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official Lieutenant-Colonel Tanvir Ahmed, Military Intelligence official Lieutenant-Colonel Irfan Mirza and Gujaranwala CTD Investigating Officer, Shahid Tanveer.

(With agency inputs)

India to push UN to include Masood Azhar on terrorist list

New Delhi: India will push the UN to include the name of Masood Azhar, leader of the proscribed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group, in its list of designated terrorists, an external affairs ministry official said on Thursday.

JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar. ReutersJeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

This comes after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the parliament on Wednesday that India on February 18 submitted the names of 11 individuals and one organisation to the UN’s Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

“I can confirm to you that we will be moving the 1267 committee to also include the name of Masood Azhar on the sanctions list,” external affairs ministry Vikas Swarup said at a media briefing here.

“It is a matter of great anomaly that the organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed is listed but not its leader,” he added.

The JeM had claimed responsibility for the January 2 cross-border terror attack on the Pathankot Indian Air Force base that claimed the lives of seven Indian security personnel.

The attack had thrown the proposed foreign secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan, originally scheduled in the middle of January, off the rails with New Delhi seeking action from Islamabad against those involved in the attack.

Pakistan has since lodged an FIR without naming any person and said that it would send a special investigation team (SIT) to India to probe the attack.

Asked the names of the 11 individuals India has submitted to the UN, Swarup said that it would not be prudent to do so now as it was part of a process being followed.

Asked about the fate of the foreign secretary-level talks, he said that India was awaiting the composition and itinerary of the visit of Pakistan’s proposed SIT.

Regarding comments on television by Sartaj Aziz, advisor on foreign affairs to the Pakistani prime minister, that the SIT would need to access certain parts of the Pathankot airbase, the spokesman said once India got the list of the composition of the SIT and the dates finalised for the visit, then the agencies concerned on both sides would take up such issues.