Parliament attack: 15 years on, Maulana Azhar is still Pakistan's blue-eyed boy
It has been 15 years since the temple of democracy, the Parliament of India was attacked by the Jaish-e-Mohammad. As the country observes yet another anniversary on Tuesday, the fact remains that that the man who masterminded the attack continues to walk scot-free in Pakistan.
Following the Khandahar hijack on December 24, 1999, the Jaish-e-Mohammad was formed under Maulana Masood Azhar. The hijack was staged to have Azhar released, and once that was done, the then President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharaff assured that he would be brought to justice. However Azhar went on to form the JeM, and plotted an attack on Parliament.
On December 13, 2001 terrorists of the JeM stormed the Parliament complex and opened fire in which 12 persons were killed. The attack took place 40 minutes after Parliament was adjourned.
All the MPs and ministers inside the Parliament escaped unhurt. In the ensuing one-hour gun-battle with the security forces, the terrorists were killed. Investigations that followed zeroed in on four persons --Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain, S A R Geelani and Navjot Sandhu.
Sandhu was acquitted of all charges except one under Section 123 of the Indian Penal Code (concealing with intent to facilitate design to wage a war). The rest were awarded death sentences. However, the Delhi high court acquitted Geelani while commuting the death sentence of Hussain to life.
In the Supreme Court, the death sentence awarded to Guru was confirmed, while Geelani's acquittal was upheld. In February 2012, Guru was hanged.
The reality now:
Nothing much seems to have changed 15 years after this ghastly attack. India has witnessed many Pakistan sponsored attacks such as the Mumbai train bombings in 2006 and the 26/11 attacks. India has been making several requests to Pakistan to act against Azhar.
Azhar continues to be a blue-eyed boy of the ISI in Pakistan. He had a short falling out with the Pakistani spy agency when he allegedly plotted the assassination of President Musharaff. But still he remained free., but got away unscathed.
Today, he is Pakistan's most important proxy. The recent attacks at Nagrota and Pathankot were carried out by the Jaish under Azhar's orders.
India has not also failed to get a ban on Azhar imposed by the United Nations. China has been a stumbling block for India as it continues to oppose a ban. China says that this is a matter that needs to be debated before any decision is taken. India feels that Azhar's ban is being blocked as China considers Pakistan to be an all-weather friend.