Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Maulana Masood Azhar, head of Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Opinion | Masood Azhar’s odd disappearance

  • Masood Azhar, founder of terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad, has gone missing
  • How Pakistan lost track of a globally proclaimed terrorist is fishy, to say the least

Ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) decision on whether to blacklist Pakistan for terror financing, the Imran Khan government has said that Masood Azhar, founder of terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad, has gone missing. As a result, it could not take action against him. Azhar has been proscribed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), and Indian intelligence agencies hold his outfit responsible for numerous terrorist strikes on Indian soil, including, most saliently, last year’s Pulwama attack.

How Pakistan lost track of a globally proclaimed terrorist is fishy, to say the least. That it happened just days ahead of the FATF plenary meeting in Paris, where world leaders are expected to review what Islamabad has done to stamp out terror, only adds to suspicions. To avoid ending up on the FATF blacklist, Pakistan seems to be using its old tricks of deception, throwing its hand up even as terrorists go about their business right under its nose.

India is reportedly preparing to expose Pakistan’s duplicity on the matter, possibly by presenting evidence of Azhar’s whereabouts. That, though, may not be enough for India to secure punitive action against its western neighbour or modify its behaviour. It doesn’t have just its all-weather ally China to count on, but perhaps US backing as well, given that the latter still needs Pakistani help for its Afghanistan plan. Regardless of this, Indian diplomacy would have to keep up the pressure on Pakistan. If Indo-Pak relations are to achieve normalcy, it’s vital that Indian security faces no threat from “non-state actors" operating on Pakistani soil.

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