India will not get access to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) president Masood Azhar, as a highly-placed source in the Pakistan government said. “The demand is frivolous” , official said.
The five-member Joint investigation team from Pakistan is currently in India to seek evidence related to the Pathankot attacks, on the other hand the denial from Pakistan officials of not allowing NIA to access Azhar reveals Pakistan’s real intentions.
Though on Tuesday, NIA chief Sharad Kumar said his team would want to visit Bahawalpur in Pakistan where the Jaish-e-Mohammad is headquartered. They would demand access to Azhar, who the is allegedly believed to be the mastermind behind the Pathankot according to NIA.
Pakistani officials, however, said there is no ‘reciprocity’ to the process. “We are determined to investigate the involvement of the Jaish, but instead of playing to the domestic gallery, India should cooperate with us and help us gather evidence and strengthen the case. The trial against Jaish members will be conducted in a Pakistani court of law so where is the need for granting India access to Masood Azhar,” the official said.
The JIT which is in India probing for the case is supposed to submit a report on their return. India hopes it will help in prosecution of Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar.
India believes it has a strong case against Azhar who had to release in 1999 in exchange for passengers on board a Nepal-Kandhar Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked. Azhar organised the Jaish after his release.
Sartaj Aziz, advisor of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has admitted that one of the phone details shared by India had been tracked to the Jaish-e-Mohammad. Some of the six suicide bombers who laid a siege in Pathankot’s air base had made calls to Pakistan which had been intercepted by India.
Pakistan has detained some of the suspects in connection with the Pathankot attack probe, investigators from the country told their Indian counterparts on Wednesday. “More details about detentions cannot be shared at this moment,” said Sharad Kumar.
But sources said Masood Azhar, chief of JeM, the outfit allegedly behind the attack, or his brother Rauf are not among those detained by the authorities.