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No official word on Masood Azhar's detention, India defers decision on talks

File photo of Pathankot JeM chief and terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar.

File photo of Pathankot JeM chief and terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar.

NSA Ajit Doval is away in Paris and is expected back in the country on Thursday. MEA sources said a decision will be announced soon after his return.

India on Wednesday deferred a decision on Foreign Secretary-level talks even after Pakistan reportedly detained Maulana Masood Azhar, the terrorist accused of masterminding the recent Pathankot attack.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was keen that national security advisers of both countries talk before a decison was taken on FS-level talks, sources told CNN IBN after the end of his two- hour meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

NSA Ajit Doval is away in Paris and is expected back in the country on Thursday. MEA sources said a decision will be announced soon after his return.

Sources also said Modi felt, that since it was a political decision, it was better to wait till India gets details on Pakistan's investigation into the Pathankot attack.

Media reports from Pakistan said Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar was taken into custody , but there has been no official confirmation from Islamabad.

The Centre, according to sources, wanted to avoid a repeat of the 26/11 probe where terror suspects were arrested and let off soon after.

An indication that India will not rush ahead with its decision came even earlier when MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup stressed that there was no confirmation on Azhar's detention.

Foreign secretary Jayashankar was set to travel to Islamabad this week, but the trip was put on hold after India hinged the talks on credible action by Pakistan against those who masterminded the terror attack at the Pathankot airbase on January 2.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan's Geo TV reported that Azhar had been taken into preventive custody -- which means he is a suspect , but does not have specific charges against him.

Pakistani minister Mohammad Zubair told Indian media that he cannot confirm the news, while Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, minister for frontier regions, said "Azhar was arrested".

Azhar's brother Abdul Rehman Rauf and other members of the dreaded outfit too have been reportedly arrested and their offices sealed.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also set up a high-level investigation team, comprising officers from all the three intelligence wings, to probe the Pathankot attack.

A statement from Pakistan's PMO expressed "national resolve" not to allow its territory to be used for acts of terrorism anywhere.

Azhar and two other terrorists were released from an Indian prison in 1999 in exchange for release of 155 passengers of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar.

first published:January 14, 2016, 00:23 IST