The Pakistan government on Saturday dismissed its own claim that it had taken over the control of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) headquarters and said the complex has no link with the terror outfit, which claimed responsibility for the terror attack in Pulwama in which nearly 40 CRPF soldiers were killed.
In a video message on social media, Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the Punjab government took administrative control of Madrassatul Sabir and Jamia-e-Masjid Subhanallah in Bahawalpur, in line with the decisions taken during their National Security Council meeting held on Thursday.
Rejecting his earlier announcement that the complex was the terror outfit’s headquarters, Mr Chaudhry said, “This is the madrassah (seminary). Calling it Jaish headquarters is India’s propaganda.
On Friday, the minister had told news agency PTI that the Punjab government has “taken over the control of the Jaish headquarters in Bahawalpur”, about 400 km from Lahore. It was the first time Pakistan acknowledged that.
A statement issued by Pakistan’s Interior Ministry on Friday also said the crackdown on Jaish “has been taken in line with the decision of the National Security Committee meeting held on Thursday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan”.
“The Islamic seminaries in the campus have a faculty of 70 teachers and 600 students were studying there. Punjab police is providing security and protection to the campus,” the statement read.
On Saturday, police took a group of local journalists to the place in Bahawalpur and claimed that it is a “routine seminary having no link with JeM”.
“Some 600 students are studying here and none of them is associated with any banned organisation or involved in any terror activity,” police said.
A local journalist, who visited the seminary and spoke to some students and teachers there, said, “When asked about the JeM and Masood Azhar, they showed complete ignorance about them. Perhaps they were briefed before our visit.”
(With inputs from PTI)