Pakistan yet to detain Azhar Masood, no action against Jaish: Indian intelligence

NEW DELHI: India doubts that Pakistan has taken action against anybody of any consequence in Jaish-e-Muhammed, the terror group which allegedly carried out the attack on the Pathankot airbase, a suspicion which may have a bearing on when the Modi gov ernment agrees to hold the foreign secretary-level dialogue. 

Sources in the intelligence establishment here told TOI that, contrary to claims in the Pakistani media, Maulana Masood Azhar, the India-hating chief of Jaish, has not been detained. In fact, information trickling in suggests that though three Jaish operatives were detained in Pakistan, it is not for any direct role in the Pathankot attack but because literature on Jaish was found in their possession. 

"There is no word from the Pakistan government on whether an FIR has been registered as regards the Pathankot attack and, if yes, the charges slapped on the possible perpetrators based on its soil. An FIR is the first step towards acknowledging that the hatching of conspiracy and training for the attack took place in Pakistan," said a senior officer of the security establishment.There were reports last week claiming Azhar had been arrested in connection with the Pathankot strike. However, there was no official confirmation. 

Later, Punjab prov ince law minister Rana Sanaullah was quoted by a Pakistani daily as saying that Azhar had been taken into "protective custody". He made it a point to clarify that the Jaish chief had not been arrested, and that any such action would follow only after his involvement in the Pathankot attack is proved. 

Indian intelligence officials now suspect that the news of Azhar being taken into custody could be more of a "misinformation". "Though Jaish is a banned outfit in Pakistan, it continues to be patronized by the ISI. It would be rather surprising if Azhar is directly held responsible for the Pathankot attack," said a senior officer. 

Even though a joint investigation team with represen tatives from the Pakistan army , ISI and FIA, etc was announced to look into evidence provided by India regarding the role of Pakistan-based Jaish handlers in the Pathankot strike, there is no word on the registration of a case or sections of the law invoked against the persons supposedly detained in Pakistan. 

Though Islamabad has claimed that the numbers of Jaish handlers, called by Pathankot fidayeen and intercepted by Indian agencies, are not registered in Pakistan, New Delhi is not buying the explanation. 

Agencies are crossing their fingers lest the Pathankot investigation by Pakistan goes the same way as the 2611 probe. 

The assessment of the intelligence agencies here is not a happy augury for the prospect for the two foreign secretaries to meet shortly.


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