Pakistan has for the first time officially confirmed that Moulana Masood Azhar has been placed under detention since January 14 last after New Delhi asked Islamabad to act against the radical cleric and his terror organization Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) for carrying out the attack on Pathankot air base.
With the latest terror strike at Pampore in Jammu and Kashmir once again casting a shadow on New Delhi’s engagement with Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday sought to convey to India that it had indeed acted on the information provided to it on the role of JeM operatives in planning and coordinating the January 2-5 attacks on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab.
Sartaj Aziz, Advisor on Foreign Affairs to Pakistan’s Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif, told an Indian TV channel that the JeM chief had been in detention since January 14.
He also said that proposed visit of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) from Pakistan to India to probe the terror attack on the IAF air base in Pathankot might take place by the end of this month or early next month.
Aziz’s comment came at a time, when New Delhi and Islamabad are exploring possibilities of a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and him in Kathmandu on the sideline of a Saarc meet in the middle of March. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar may also meet his counterpart A A Chaudhry in Islamabad or Kathmandu ahead of Swaraj-Aziz meeting.
Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi might also have a meeting in Washington on the sideline of the Nuclear Security Summit, which will be hosted by US President Barack Obama from March 31 to April 1.
Islamabad had earlier stated that some of the JeM operatives had been arrested in Pakistan after the SIT constituted by Sharif had worked on the “leads” provided by New Delhi and raided and sealed offices of the terror organization and its front. Though unconfirmed reports indicated that Masood Azhar, himself, was also detained, New Delhi maintained that it had received no official information from Islamabad about the detention of the JeM founder.