Islamabad: Pakistan Thursday sought to play down a recent address by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar calling for jihad against India, claiming it was a “one time event” and should not concern New Delhi.
“We have seen media reports that he has addressed a public meeting but probably, this is a onetime event. He escaped scrutiny and he did it but I am sure you are aware that his organisation is banned in Pakistan and their activities are monitored,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam.
She was responding to a question at a weekly news briefing on leaders like Azhar getting public space while the Pakistan government talks about peace with India. She added that “what an individual who belongs to a proscribed entity says should not concern India so much”.
Aslam also raised the issue of what she said were “very provocative statements” purportedly made by the Indian Army chief but did not give details.
On January 26, about 10,000 people attended a rally organised in Pakistan-administered Kashmir capital Muzaffarabad by JeM to launch a book written by Mohammad Afzal Guru, executed last year for his alleged role in the 2001 attack on India’s parliament.
Addressing the gathering by phone, Azhar called for jihad against India and claimed thousands were ready to join the fight.
Analysts described the rally as a show of strength by the JeM, blamed for the attack on India’s parliament, and Azhar, released in exchange for passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines flight in 1999.
Asked by another journalist about media reports that Azhar might address students at a Pakistani university, Aslam said: “I would not comment on speculative news items.”
Responding to a query about Mast Gul, who was involved in the 1995 siege of Charar-e-Sharief shrine in Jammu and Kashmir and recently claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on Shias in Peshawar that killed nine persons, Aslam said he was a threat to Pakistan and its citizens.
“There are many people from proscribed entities who may have escaped to the area of Afghanistan and Pakistan border to avoid action against them,” she said.
“They keep moving here and there. Many of these individuals and organisations are proscribed and obviously whenever they are in the range, action will be taken. However, many of these people somehow keep popping up in other countries, so there is a need for more cooperation in that respect,” Aslam said
Talking about trans-Line of Control trade, she said she had not heard of difficulties holding up the move.
“How exactly and in what volume it is happening at the moment is obviously up to the authorities of (the two sides of Kashmir),” she said.
As far as the Pakistani and Indian governments are concerned, there is an agreement that trade should resume and “we look forward to the extraordinary meeting of the Joint Working Group on cross-LoC CBMs where the remaining issues like the detention of the driver and how to make the system more transparent will be discussed”, she said.