Pak Could Be Spreading Rumour About Masood Azhar’s Death

New Delhi: The fate of Jaish-e-Mohammad founder and dreaded terrorist Masood Azhar remains a big mystery. While the social media on Sunday was agog with the news of his death, a news report from Pakistan dismissed all such speculations, quoting family sources. Some reports suggested that the Indian intelligence was trying to ascertain reports about his condition.

Strategic affair experts who closely monitor the geopolitical developments in South Asia believe the Pakistani establishment is planting such rumours as part of a well thought out strategy.

A deliberate ploy to deflect attention:

Last week union minister Arun Jaitley had hinted at India’s ability to execute a covert operation like the one carried out by the US to kill al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2011. Even if sceptics in India would doubt India’s capability of going ahead with it, Pakistan is worried about India actually resorting to such an action, given Narendra Modi’s government’s hardline approach in dealing with terrorism.

By planting such rumours, Pakistan could deflect attention and unburden the pressure to act against Azhar. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is expected to pass a resolution next week declaring him a global terrorist, provided China does not veto it. Pakistan needs Azhar as much as China to serve their interest. Azhar has proved an asset for Pakistan to act as a proxy for their army and rein in terror on Indian soil.

Today India’s closest allies including France, UK, US along with Islamic countries such as UAE and Saudi Arabia have supported India’s position on dealing with terror outfits. The fear within the Pakistani establishment is that India might leverage on it to launch an audacious strike inside its territory. As Air Force Chief B S Dhanoa said on Monday the operation to eliminate the terror elements was still on. Moments after his statement, Pakistan extended the prohibition of using its airspace for commercial flight operation for another day.

Where is Masood Azhar: 

While few reports suggested he had succumbed to his wounds inflicting during the air strike by India in JeM terror centre in Balakot, some international media have claimed that Pakistan has shifted him to a safer hide-out fearing retribution from India. Some accounts suggested he might have also suffered from renal failure. The truth is he has not been heard since the air strike in Balakot. Azhar is a regular to the Friday prayers but this time around he was conspicuous by his absence.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehood Qureshi had last week told CNN in an interview that he was unwell — to the point that he was not unable to venture out of his home. Sources believe Pakistan could open up about him some day — dead or alive — the way it suits them.

The 50-year-old Azhar, who was released by the NDA government in 1999 in exchange of hostages of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814, has been accused of being the mastermind of the 2001 Parliament attack, suicide attack on Jammu and Kashmir state assembly, attack on Pathankot IAF base and the latest Pulwama terror strike.

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