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Post UN ban, Masood Azhar operates JeM under new name


New Delhi, May 10: Maulana Masood Azhar continues to remain at the helm of affairs of the Jaish-e-Mohammad despite the UN imposing a ban and declaring him a terrorist.

As expected the Jaish-e-Mohammad would now operate under a new name, intelligence agencies have learnt. It was expected that Pakistan would change the name of the outfit to overcome the ban and we witnessed this in the case of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba as well.

File photo of Maulana Masood Azhar

Following the ban on the Lashkar-e-Tayiba's financial outfit, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, it was re-christened as Falah-e-Insaniyat to overcome the ban.

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The JeM would now be called as the Jaish-e-Mutqi, officials tracking the outfit have learnt. While Azhar would continue to be at the helm of affairs, the ISI has advised him to restrict his public appearances.

Prior to the ban, the ISI had shifted Azhar's base over four times, Indian intelligence agencies tell OneIndia. We do not expect any major action against Azhar, who will continue to remain a strategic asset for Pakistan, an officer says. However his activities would not remain in the open like it was in the past and Pakistan would be under some kind of pressure to keep him under check.

Pakistan has over the years tackled such issues by propping up newer outfits. For instance, when the Jamaat-ud-Dawa came under international pressure, Pakistan closed its offices. However a few months later the JuD emerged with a new name called the Falah-e-Insaniyat.

The heat on the JeM has been high for sometime. This means Pakistan would now prop up the Lashkar-e-Tayiba for sometime now. The same thing had happened in case of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba a few years back. The heat on the outfit was high following attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, following which the JeM was propped up.

Officials say that like Hafiz Saeed, Azhar too remains a major asset for Pakistan's ISI.

With the ban, the ISI would keep him safe from public glare and instead prop up his brother Mohammad Rauf. In fact for sometime now, the ISI has tried to lower the heat on Azhar and let Rauf call the shots. Rauf is assisted by his brother Athar Ibrahim.

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The value of Azhar can be gauged from the fact that he even got away with an assassination bid on former Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf. He did fall out of favour with the establishment for a brief while, but he was back to being their blue-eyed boy.

The real thaw in relations between Azhar and the ISI came about in 2017. Until then, the ISI used both the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and the Hizbul Mujahideen extensively in the Valley.

Following a military offensive, both these groups lost considerable ground and the heat was higher. This is when the ISI re-launched the JeM into the Valley.

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