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Safeguarding Azhar, the terrorist who even got away with a Musharraf assassination bid

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New Delhi, Feb 23: Taking control of the Islamic seminaries belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad, but letting its chief, Maulana Masood Azhar is clearly another eye-wash by Pakistan.

File photo of Maulana Masood Azhar

Along with Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Azhar is without a doubt the most useful asset for Pakistan. The country will go and has gone that extra mile to keep these men safe from any sort of international action.

Why Pakistan's action against JeM is an eye-wash, insufficient

After every major attack, we have seen similar action by Pakistan, which claimed to take control of their assets, but in every instance, they were let away.

Take, for instance, Azhar was found to be one of the main plotters of an assassination bid that involved former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf. He fell out of favour with the establishment for a short while but was back in their good books in a few years time.

When it comes to Azhar, Pakistan has always gone that extra mile to safeguard him.

In the year 1994, the Indian agencies detained a 26-year-old in Srinagar who claimed to be a journalist. He had with him a Portuguese passport and at that time, none knew that one day he would turn out to be one of the world's biggest terrorists.

That was Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad has gone on to wreck havoc in India. He was sent to India to oversee the operations of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. He had no outfit of his own back then.

The ISI was however aware of his skills and it was his powerful oratory and convincing skills that made him such a favourite of the Pakistan spy agency. An officer, who has tracked Azhar tells OneIndia that he was a powerful speaker and could draw large crowds. He was a good organiser and this is what made him a favourite of the ISI.

After spending 5 years in custody, he was infamously released following the Kandahar hijack.

His brother Mohammad Rauf, who currently runs the outfit plotted the hijack with the help of the ISI.

After much drama, he was finally released. After he returned to Pakistan, he launched the Jaish-e-Mohammad. The outfit made an announcement when it attacked the Indian Parliament in 2001.

His relationship with the ISI has been blow hot blow cold. The JeM chief had a falling out when his outfit attempted to assassinate former Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf. He fell completely out of favour with the establishment back then. However the establishment never seriously pursued the investigation and all those part of the incident went away scot free.

Why the bans on terror groups by Pak are more protective in nature

The differences between the establishment in Pakistan and Azhar witnessed a thaw in late 2017. However, the ISI did not immediately use him in Kashmir. In those years, the ISI extensively used the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Tayiba in the Valley.

While the JeM terrorists were present in the Valley all along, they were never a front outfit. However, towards the later half of 2015, the JeM was used extensively. The outfit was sanctioned a major attack at Pathankot in Punjab. Following that, the outfit has been involved in a series of major strikes that include the ones in Uri, Nagrota and now Pathankot.

With the Pulwama attack, the focus is back on the JeM and its chief Azhar. While Pakistan had claimed that it had detained him following the Pathankot attack, sources tell OneIndia that he is hospital and is battling a kidney ailment. While he continues to be the ideological head of the outfit, the show is being run by his two brothers, Mohammad Rauf and Athar Ibrahim. In fact it was Ibrahim who sent his son, Mohammad Umair to Kashmir last year. Security agencies believe that it was Umair who masterminded the Pulwama attack.

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