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Not dead, God will decide when, Masood Azhar says in audio clip

By Anuj Cariappa

Islamabad, Mar 07: The Pakistani military's statement that Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) does not "exist" in the country came days after its foreign minister Mehmood Qureshi admitted in an interview to CNN that JeM chief Masood Azhar was in Pakistan and "is very unwell to the extent that he cannot leave his house".

Not dead, God will decide when, Masood Azhar says in audio clip

When asked why Pakistan had not taken action against Azhar, Qureshi had said the government wanted "solid, inalienable evidence" to convince the "people and the independent judiciary of Pakistan" of their actions.

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However, Azhar was quite active when he used the audio clip on Wednesday to warn the Pakistani authorities. "Stop persecuting the mosques, madrassas, and mujahideen. Remember, that when a Muslim flees the battle against the hypocrites, the wrath of Allah is upon him," he said.

"There are reports the world over of my death. But, without doubt, God alone decides how long we are to live," he said in the clip, which seems to have been recorded on Monday as the Jaish chief says, "Today is 4th March 2019. The day has passed, Tuesday night is upon us and I have no way of knowing whether I will be alive when you hear my words."

On Tuesday, Pakistan had launched a crackdown on banned militant outfits and detained 44 members of proscribed organisations, including Azhar's brother and son. The action against the banned outfits, according to Pakistan's junior interior minister, will continue for two weeks.

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Maj Gen Ghafoor said on Wednesday that any clampdown on militants was part of ongoing domestic policy. "We are not doing anything under anyone's pressure," he said, adding that Pakistan would root out "anybody who operates from its soil". "We feel that it is not in the interest of Pakistan," he said.

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