Fearing a crackdown by the authorities of Pakistan, which is under a massive international pressure to take action against terror groups in its country, the Jaish-e-Mohammed has asked its cadres to unite and be ready anytime to migrate. In a statement, the Pakistan-based terror group also slammed Prime Minister Imran Khan for releasing of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman on Friday. It also fears shutting down of its Madrasas in Pakistan.
The statement came in the wake of reports that Pakistan may take “decisive action” against all proscribed organisations, including Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM), and even withdraw its opposition to the move to list its chief Masood Azhar in the UN Security Council terror list. The US, the UK and France on Wednesday moved a fresh proposal in the UN Security Council to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, a listing that will subject him to the global travel ban, asset freeze and arms embargo.
In a major policy decision, Pakistan is set to take decisive action against all proscribed organisations as well as against the head of banned JeM, a senior security official familiar with the development quoted as saying by The Express Tribune. It is not clear what specific action would be taken against Azhar but the official hinted that Pakistan may withdraw its opposition to the listing of JeM chief as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.
JeM, in the fresh statement, has also claimed that Azhar is alive but confirmed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) indeed targeted its camps in Pakistan's Balakot with Israeli guided missiles on February 26. Its statement came amid conflicting reports that Masood Azhar died either in the airstrike or due to liver cancer.
However, there was no confirmation from any authoritative sources. Jaish-e-Mohammed had identified suicide bomber Adil Ahmad Dar as the one who carried out the attack on February 14 that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans in Pulwama. In an unverified 10-minute video recorded before the attack, Dar also mentioned that many more people like him were ready to 'follow the same path'.
In the statement, Jaish said there has been growing pressure from India, the US and even Russia against Pakistan to take action against the terrorist group. It said the Pakistan government was planning action to satisfy the international community.
Amid growing pressure to show the damage caused by IAF's precision bombing on the Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility, India is contemplating releasing evidence in the days to come to silence those doubting the impact. The IAF had declared that disclosing proof of the air strike impact was a call to be taken by the government even though electronic evidence gathered by radar images was sufficient to establish the damage caused to the structures.
Though there was no credible confirmation about the number of casualties, and Pakistani establishment remaining in denial mode, a video clip of Masood Azhar's brother Maulana Ammar had surfaced on Saturday where he can be heard accepting that the Balakot camp had taken a hit. The recording is said to be from a public function organized in Peshawar after the air strike.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also accepted on television that Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and that he was not well. Another report from Islamabad said the JeM founder was undergoing dialysis in a Pakistan army hospital. Reports claimed that after getting seriously injured in the air strike, Masood Azhar died in a hospital.
Masood Azhar was suspected to be afflicted with renal failure and is under regular dialysis at an army hospital in Rawalpindi in Pakistan, officials said on Saturday.
Qureshi said on Thursday: "He is in Pakistan, according to my information. He is unwell to the extent that he can't leave his house, because he's really unwell".
The Jaish-e-Mohammad chief was a close associate of Osama bin Laden, terror motivator in several African countries and also known by many as the Pakistani cleric who brought jihad into the religious discourse at mosques in the UK, the official said.
The JeM was reactivated in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014, a year after the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The group had constituted a special 'Afzal Guru squad' to avenge his hanging.
The influence of the 50-year-old overweight terrorist mastermind was so huge that, when he was released by India in exchange for freeing the hijacked Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814 on December 31, 1999, in Kandahar, Laden hosted a banquet for him the same night.