Pakistan Govt Takes 'Control' of Jaish-e-Mohammed HQ After Global Outrage Over Pulwama Attack
The JeM had claimed responsibility for the suicide bomber attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14.
File photo of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.
New Delhi: Amid intense global pressure to rein in terror groups operating from its soil, the Pakistan government on Friday said it has taken control of the headquarters of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the terror outfit that had claimed responsibility for the suicide bomber attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on February 14.
A statement issued by the country’s interior ministry stated that the government of Punjab province has taken over the campus comprising Madressatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur, reportedly the headquarters of Jaish-e-Mohammad and appointed an administrator to manage its affairs.
A spokesperson for the interior ministry said the campus has a faculty of 70 teachers and currently 600 students were studying in it. The Punjab police is providing security and protection to the campus, he added. Bahawalpur is 400 km from Lahore.
Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry also confirmed the development.
The move came after the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned last week’s terror attack that claimed the lives of at least 40 soldiers and specifically called out Jaish, despite Pakistan as well as China’s efforts to keep it out of the statement. The statement stressed on the need to hold organisers and financiers of such "reprehensible acts" accountable and bring them to justice.
The international terror financing watchdog FATF (Financial Action Task Force) also expressed grave concern over the “violent terrorist attack” on Friday at its plenary meeting. It said that Pakistan has failed to properly understand funding of terrorist groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, and decided to keep it on its ‘grey list’.
Although the JeM has been banned in Pakistan since 2002, it has continued to operate in the country under different guises, names and identities. Many local and international news reports have also pointed to the presence of JeM in the Punjab province, especially in the Bahawalpur area, where it is also believed that Masood Azhar, the head of JeM, resides.
The action against Jaish has been taken after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called a meet of the National Security Committee (NSC). Islamabad had also decided to ban Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its charity wing Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), which are fronts for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
India has pledged a response to the Pulwama attack and dismissed Imran Khan’s earlier offer to aid investigations and to take action if New Delhi provides “actionable intelligence”.
Pakistan has adopted an aggressive stance since then, with Khan authorising armed forces to "respond decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure by India." In a video message earlier this week, Khan said Pakistan was not involved in the attack in Kashmir.
On Friday, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor, said that Pakistan can respond to "full spectrum threats" and asked India not to "mess with us". Ghafoor said the ‘battle-hardened’ Pakistani army would retaliate in case of any threat.
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