New Delhi, Jan 14: It appears as though we are back to square one where Maulana Masood Azhar is concerned. India has been told that Azhar, the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad who masterminded the Pathankot attack, has been detained.
While India is ascertaining that information, we must remember that this was a man India had in its custody.
However, Azhar had to be released in exchange for those taken hostage in the Khandahar hijack case.
Azhar has not been the same since his release. He has grown from strength to strength and today is possibly one of the most important proxies for the ISI.
Letting Azhar go many would say was a mistake. However, those part of the negotiation process during the Khandahar incident feel it is easier said than done.
The government of the day had no choice as the lives of many innocent citizens were at stake.
When India arrested a journalist:
In the year 1994, a 26-year-old Azhar was detained in Srinagar along with a Portuguese passport. He told the police that he was a journalist.
None had realized at that point in time how important this catch was. Later on when the Intelligence Bureau (IB) came into the scene did the police realize how important this catch was.
It was found that he had entered Srinagar to oversee operations of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and had been specifically launched into India by the ISI.
At that point in time, Azhar had no outfit of his own. He was being used by the ISI as an operative to oversee the battle in Kashmir.
Azhar is a powerful speaker who can draw in big crowds and he was a large influence on the youth due to his skill to convince people.
He was in custody for 5 years until the ISI decided that they needed Azhar back with them. Azhar's brother Mohammad Rauf planned the hijack with the sole intention of having Azhar released.
They were several demands that had been made by the hijackers, but those part of the negotiating process in 1999 say that the only intention was to have Azhar released.
The government of the day was under extreme pressure as there were several innocents onboard the aircraft which had been diverted to Khandahar.
Azhar was finally released and on his return to Pakistan he launched the Jaish-e-Mohammad. The Jaish then carried out the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.
Since then Azhar has been a formidable force in Pakistan. He has had a falling out with the ISI when the Jaish planned the assassination of former Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharaff.
However, by 2007 the differences were ironed out. Today Intelligence Bureau officials say that after Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Azhar is the most important proxy for the ISI.
Pakistan has said that they have detained Azhar, but it is to be seen how seriously they will pursue the case against him in connection with the attack at Pathankot.