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With Azhar banned, Pak will use Mohammad Rauf, Athar Ibrahim to run JeM

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New Delhi, May 02: In the wake of the UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, Pakistan would now find ways to safeguard him and his outfit.

One could expect some eye-wash from Pakistan to show that it seems to be acting against Azhar and the JeM. Anticipating such a decision and a strike by India in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack, Pakistan's ISI has shifted Azhar's base over four times, Indian intelligence agencies tell OneIndia.

With Azhar banned, Pak will use Mohammad Rauf, Athar Ibrahim to run JeM

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.

Behind the scenes: How India's relentless push ensured Masood Azhar was banned

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.

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.

4 reasons why the ban on Masood Azhar matters

Prior to this, the JeM had carried out the Pathankot attack, which was once again commissioned by the ISI. While India sought to probe him, but Pakistan managed to dodge it. They repeatedly changed his location to keep him protected.

Post this, the JeM had gone on to becoming lethal from dormant from the Valley and staged huge attacks at Uri, Nagrota and Pulwama.

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