New Delhi, Jan 18: India will formally make a request to Pakistan to hand over Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) who masterminded the Pathankot and Parliament attacks.
Azhar was the same person that India had to trade in exchange for the hostages during the Khandahar hijack episode.
Will Maulana Masood Azhar be handed over to India?
We very much doubt it says an official in New Delhi. We had asked for Hafiz Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi too after the 26/11 Mumbai attack, but that never happened and hence we do not expect anything different here too, the officer added.
Radar off the Maulana:
After Azhar was released, he returned to Pakistan only to mastermind the attack on the Indian Parliament.
He became high on the list of most wanted. In fact India had formally requested Pakistan to hand him over after the Parliament attack, but that did not happen.
Over the years, Maulana Masood went out of favour with the Pakistan establishment. An attempt to assassinate former President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharaff ruined his relations with the ISI and the Pakistan army further.
All these incidents made India believe that Maulana Azhar was a spent force and gradually the radar went off him.
Some officials admit that taking Maulana off the radar was a mistake. This is the problem while dealing with terrorists from Pakistan says an Intelligence Bureau officials.
The ISI intentionally ensures that some terrorists maintain a low profile for several years and this is done with the sole intention of lowering the heat.
All these years when Maulana was off the radar, India focused on Dawood Ibrahim and Hafiz Saeed. Today everything is changed and Maulana Azhar is back right on the top of the wanted list.
Why ask for Maulana Masood?
If India is so sure that Pakistan will not hand over Maulana Masood Azhar, then why ask for him in the first place. Officials explain that there can be only two outcomes that would come from such a request.
Firstly, it would pressurise Pakistan to take some action against him and keep him grounded. Secondly, it would send across a strong signal if Pakistan does not hand him over to India.
It becomes a talking point and will add to the list of all those terrorists that India has asked for in the past.