JeM chief Masood Azhar is in Pakistan but very unwell: Pakistan foreign minister

New Delhi: Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi admitted that Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar is in Pakistan but is extremely unwell.

In an interaction with CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour, Qureshi said, “Azhar is in Pakistan. According to my information, he is very unwell. He is unwell to the extent that he can’t leave his house, because he’s really unwell.”

The Pakistan foreign minister’s comments came as France, the UK and the US have launched a fresh bid at the UN to list Masood Azhar, founder of the Jaish – the organisation that has carried out multiple attacks on India over the last nearly two decades, including the recent Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF officers. India has been repeatedly trying to list him as a “global terrorist” at the United Nations Security Council. However, China has single-handedly blocked all attempts of India.

Qureshi claimed that Pakistan will take action against the Jaish chief if India provides “solid, inalienable evidence” .“If they give us evidence which is acceptable to the courts of Pakistan… after all we will have to justify they will go to the court. If they have solid, inalienable evidence, share it with us so that we can convince the independent judiciary of Pakistan,” he said.

During the interaction, Qureshi also added that the release of captured IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is a “peace gesture” and must be seen as Pakistan’s “willingness to de-escalate.” Varthaman, who in Pakistan’s custody since Wednesday is likely to be released along Wagah border today.

If the proposal is passed at the UNSC, Azhar will be tagged as a ‘UN-designated global terrorist’, which in turn would subject him to a global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.

Amid the rising tensions between the two countries, India has handed over a dossier to Pakistan with “specific details of JeM complicity in Pulwama terror attack and the presence of JeM terror camps and its leadership in Pakistan.” It also contains details of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar’s anti-India speeches and claims of attacks by Jaish on security forces in the past two years, official sources said.

Besides Pulwama, India also presented nine specific instances when JeM conducted rallies and religious congregations in Pakistan “right under the nose of the Pakistan government” to indoctrinate and recruit men by instigating them against India.