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Pak Foreign Minister Admits JeM Chief Masood Azhar is in Country, But Claims He is Really Unwell

In an interview with the CNN, Qureshi said that for the Pakistani authorities to arrest Azhar, India would first have to hand over proof that is 'acceptable in Pakistani courts.'

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Updated:March 1, 2019, 11:28 AM IST
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Pak Foreign Minister Admits JeM Chief Masood Azhar is in Country, But Claims He is Really Unwell
File photo of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar.
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New Delhi: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday admitted that Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, who has masterminded several terror attacks in India, is in the country, but claimed that he was really unwell and not in a position to even leave his house.

In an interview with the CNN, Qureshi said that for the Pakistani authorities to arrest Azhar, India would first have to hand over proof that is “acceptable in Pakistani courts.”

Masood Azhar’s JeM has been behind the attack on the Parliament House in 2001, the Pathankot air force base attack of 2016, the terror strike on army camps in Jammu and Uri in 2016, and the latest suicide attack on CRPF in Pulwama, which escalated the tensions between the two nations.

India had on Wednesday handed over a dossier to Pakistan on Jaish’s role in the Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed, detailing the terror camps operating in Pakistan and the route taken by terrorists from Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to Jammu and Kashmir to mount attacks.

“If they (India) have good solid evidence, please sit and talk, please have dialogue and we will be reasonable,” he said.

The Indian Air Force had on Tuesday carried out a “pre-emptive, non-military” strike on the JeM camp in Balakot, which was being run by Maulana Yusuf Azhar, the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, after Pakistan failed to act against terrorists operating from its soil, the government said.

In a significant shift of tone, Qureshi also said Pakistan will welcome any step that leads to de-escalation of tensions with India when asked about the designation of Azhar as a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council.

The global terrorist tag will subject the JeM chief to a global travel ban, asset freeze and an arms embargo.

The US, the UK and France moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, but China has remained non-commital on whether it would back the resolution, despite global pressure.

This is the fourth such bid at the UN in the last 10 years to list Azhar as a global terrorist. All three previous bids were vetoed by China.

The Security Council Sanctions Committee will have 10 working days to consider the fresh proposal submitted by the three members. China, a close ally of Pakistan, has consistently blocked moves first by India and later by the US, the UK and France to designate Azhar as a global terrorist by the 1267 Committee by putting technical holds.
| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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