Masood Azhar rally raises questions in Pakistan

Masood Azhar rally raises questions in Pakistan

pakistanA Pakistani newspaper Sunday questioned the government’s policy towards militancy after Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar addressed a rally in Muzaffarabad.

After a long gap, Masood Azhar addressed any rally, reaching out to the audience over telephone in the capital of “Azad Kashmir”, the Dawn reported.

Masood Azhar is said to be the brain behind the 2001 attack on Indian parliament that almost caused a war between India and Pakistan.

“This first public appearance of sorts in years (by) the leader of an outlawed organisation raises questions about the state’s policy towards militancy,” the Dawn report said.

It said the reactivation of leaders of outlawed groups did not seem accidental.

“It is a disturbing development for the international community as well as for our national security.”

The rally was held to launch a book apparently written by Afzal Guru, the Indian who was hanged for the parliament attack.

The Dawn said the Muzaffarabad rally last week “was very well organised” and that people were bussed to the venue.

“It is not possible that the local administration and security agencies did not know about the event.”

The rally was also reportedly addressed by Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar, the younger brother of Masood Azhar who too is closely associated with the banned outfit, the daily said.

“It is often argued by the civil and military authorities that the ban on the jehadi groups was only applicable in Pakistan and not in Azad Kashmir.

“This is an extremely ridiculous argument especially as it cannot explain why Masood Azhar is still operating from Bahawalpur, his hometown.”

Masood Azhar formed the JeM after his release by Indian authorities in exchange for the passengers of a hijacked Indian Airline plane in December 1999.

The organisation was banned by Pervez Musharraf’s military government. The JeM then splintered into several factions.

But despite the ban, Masood Azhar was never detained.

“The resurfacing of Masood Azhar and other militant leaders exposes the duplicity of our policy on militancy,” the Dawn said.

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