Masood Azhar: Did Masood Azhar sit in the lap of Taliban or is Pak playing mind game, discussion from Karachi to Kabul

Islamabad: There is a tussle between Pakistan and Afghanistan over Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar. Pakistan claims that Masood Azhar is hiding in Afghanistan. At the same time, the Taliban has retaliated saying that Masood Azhar is not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan. In such a situation, the location of Masood Azhar has become a mystery. It is being claimed that Pakistan wants to get itself removed from the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force by pretending to take action against Masood Azhar. Whereas, Masood Azhar is in a safe location in the custody of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. In such a situation, he is playing the mind game of giving shelter to Masood Azhar on the head of Taliban. At the same time, it is also being said that Masood Azhar belongs to the Deobandi faction, which has old links with the Taliban. During America’s invasion of Afghanistan, Masood Azhar raised Mullah Yakub, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar. In such a situation, the Taliban can also give shelter to pay off that old debt.

Pakistan playing mind game to avoid FATF?
It remains a compulsion for Pakistan to pretend action against Masood Azhar. The meeting of the full council of the FATF is to be held from October 18 to 21. In such a situation, Pakistan will have to show action against Masood Azhar before this meeting. Western countries had demanded action against Masood Azhar before the plenary meeting of FATF. In such a situation, Pakistan has pressured the Taliban twice for the handover of Masood Azhar, but the Taliban has denied Masood’s presence every time. Pakistan claims that Masood Azhar had visited Kabul in recent days. It was seen in Kunar and Khost provinces bordering eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Masood Azhar’s terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammed is already active in this area.

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Jaish training centers in Afghanistan
A UN report earlier this year said Jaish-e Mohammad had eight training camps in Nangarhar province, which is located between Kunar and Khost. In such a situation, there is a possibility that Masood Azhar may be hiding somewhere in this area. Pakistan again sent a letter of request to the Taliban in early September. But the Taliban rejected Masood Azhar’s claims of asylum in Afghanistan and said it would not allow any armed groups to operate from Afghan soil. Despite the Taliban’s claim, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan last week that Azhar was hiding in Afghanistan.

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Taliban’s close ties with Jaish-e-Mohammed
Azhar has not been seen in public in recent years. In such a situation, the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar in Afghanistan cannot be ruled out. A source said that barring Al Qaeda, no other terrorist group is as close to the Taliban as Jaish-e-Mohammed is. Even Lashkar-e-Taiba and East Turkestan Islamic Movement do not have close ties with the Taliban. The UN sanctions monitoring team also mentioned in its report in May this year that Jaish-e-Mohammed is a Deobandi group that is ideologically close to the Taliban.

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UN report also mentions Taliban-Jaish relations
The UN report also states that 1,500 to 2,000 Jaish-e-Mohammed fighters have fought wars with the Taliban in the last 20 years. Jaish-e-Mohammed runs its own terrorist training camp and controls the area where it faces no challenge from the Taliban. In such circumstances, it would be easy for the top Jaish-e-Mohammed leader to take refuge in Afghanistan. However, many international counter-terror agencies are also skeptical of Pakistan’s claim. He believes that Pakistan is blaming Afghanistan to remove the pressure from itself.


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