Jaish-e-Mohammad chief arrested over Pathankot air base attack

Published: January 14, 2016
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan has arrested the head of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group on suspicion his outfit masterminded an attack this month on an air base in Pathankot, two officials said on Wednesday.

Maulana Masood Azhar, a hardliner who was blamed for a 2001 attack on India’s parliament, was detained two days ago along with his brother and brother-in-law and will remain in protective custody for at least 30 days, a senior intelligence official told Reuters.

Pathankot attack: Pakistan to send special investigation team to India

Pakistan said earlier in the day that it had arrested several members of Azhar’s group and sealed off its offices as it investigates Indian assertions that the January 2 attack, in which seven military personnel were killed, was the work of the Pakistan-based militants.

The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan – longtime, nuclear-armed arch-rivals on the Indian subcontinent – are set to hold a rare, previously scheduled meeting on Friday, part of a budding diplomatic thaw after decades of hostility. But India has demanded Pakistan take “prompt and decisive” action over the January 2 air base attack before the meeting goes ahead.

“We will keep them (Azhar and brothers) for as long as we need to carry out our investigation over India’s claims about the attack. We are resolved to take this investigation to its conclusion,” the senior intelligence official said.

Pathankot attack probe: India confident of Pakistan’s assistance

A senior government official close to the investigation said that Azhar, who has been placed under house arrest in the past but never prosecuted, would be prosecuted this time if evidence connected him to the attack on the Pathankot air base.

On Wednesday, Pakistan took the unusual step of announcing a high-level team to investigate the incident, naming some of the country’s top counter-terrorism officers and officials from both military and civilian intelligence.

India’s foreign ministry had no immediate comment, but said earlier it would decide late on Wednesday whether Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar would travel to Islamabad on Friday for the meeting.

Islamabad, which India has long accused of backing militant attacks, promised to get to the bottom of who was behind the assault on the air base after India handed evidence to Pakistan that it said implicated Jaish-e-Mohammad.

JIT to probe Pathankot attackers’ alleged Pakistan ties

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office said the government had made “considerable progress” in investigating the attack, and it wanted to send a team of special investigators to the Pathankot air base.

“Based on the initial investigations in Pakistan, and the information provided, several individuals belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, have been apprehended,” the office of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said. “The offices of the organisation are also being traced and sealed. Further investigations are under way.”

Jaish-e-Mohammad (Army of Mohammad) has long fought Indian forces in India’s part of the disputed region of Kashmir. It is blamed for the 2001 assault on India’s parliament that brought the two countries to the brink of war.

Official word on talks expected today

India also holds Pakistan-based militants responsible for the 2008 Mumbai shooting attacks that left 166 dead.

But a surprise December 25 visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet Sharif raised hope that stop-and-start talks between the bitter rivals might finally yield progress.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Clockboy Ahmed
    Jan 14, 2016 - 9:25AM

    Let us see if they are in the same level of jail/custody as Lakhvi, if so, it is just a hogwash.Recommend

  • Smiling Buddha
    Jan 14, 2016 - 9:41AM

    Welcoming steps, please prosecute him as whole world knows what he did and how damage he can be done in future of Pakistan and India. There is no good terrorist and bad terrorist in the world.Recommend

  • Atheist
    Jan 14, 2016 - 9:57AM

    Look at those two evil faces!! Recommend

  • sgrr
    Jan 14, 2016 - 10:12AM

    He is heading a ban organization, but his offices are working, which reportedly sealed yesterday. How the offices of a ban organization were in operation. A person who went to India without fulfilling immigration formalities and then came back to Pakistan from Afghanistan, again, without fulfilling immigration formalities, whether has was trialed on this account.Recommend

  • Faraz
    Jan 14, 2016 - 10:13AM

    The little or no reaction from Indian side seems to suggest they are actually disappointed Pakistan took these steps. Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jan 14, 2016 - 10:47AM

    @Smiling Buddha:
    Thank you. We do know that. Now, we are doing our part. Please remove your people from Baluchistan.Recommend

  • Raj
    Jan 14, 2016 - 1:16PM

    @Pakistani,
    An avg Indian would be last person to see Pakistan burn, we all want good relations with our neighbor. Moreover an unstable Pakistan will effect the economic growth of the region which includes India.
    India as a country have many problems on its own and is trying its best to come out of poverty and backwardness. Fiddling with another country would be the last option for us. Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi
    Jan 14, 2016 - 2:01PM

    This fat slob was whisked out of Indian incarceration in a hostage swap deal back in 1999. Not only was he ever questioned or debriefed upon his return to Pakistan but has been allowed to spread his hate overtly and covertly. Footnote, between 1999 when Indian Airlines plane was hijacked, his release and until 2008 this country was governed by military junta. Speaks volume about the acumen of our agencies and security establishment. Recommend

  • brar
    Jan 15, 2016 - 5:50PM

    @Faraz: My dear friend try to visit some Indian news portal, the Home Minister of India welcomed the action of Pakistan but I fail to under stand how this man was roaming free when the organisation he heads has been banned by the GovernmentRecommend

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