Islamabad: Pakistan has written a letter to the Taliban government in Afghanistan demanding the arrest of Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). According to local media reports cited by news agencies in India, Islamabad’s move hints at establishing a narrative that Azhar is in Afghanistan amid mounting pressure over terror funding in Pakistan.
According to Pakistani media outlet Bol News, Maulana Masood Azhar is located in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar and Kanhar areas. A letter demanding his arrest was written to the Afghanistan authorities by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The report comes at a time when the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has mounted pressure on Islamabad to take action against terror funding emanating from its soil. The Paris-headquartered watchdog has also hinted at a possibility of Pakistan being taken off the grey list if it acts efefctively against terror groups.
Action against Lashkar e Taiba commander following FATF pressure
Most recently, Pakistan convicted and sentenced 26/11 Mumbai attack planner and Lashkar e Taiba commander Sajid Mir – following a mounted pressure from the FATF. Shortly after the move, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) questioned the ‘timing’ of the decision and said that it was aimed at obtaining ‘liniency’ from the FATF.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has vehemently claimed that Azhar is not present in Pakistan and likely to be in Afghanistan. Interestingly, however, Azhar frequently publishes articles on Pakistani social media networks asking JeM cadres to take up jihad and claiming that an Afghanistan-like Taliban victory would open avenues for Muslim victories elsewhere in the world. On May 1, 2019, the UN added the name of Masood Azhar to the list of global designated terrorists. His name was added to the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the US in 2008.