Acknowledgment, Then Denial: Pakistan's Flip-Flop On Jaish-e-Mohammed

Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor contradicted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's admission that the Masood Azhar-led group was in the country.

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Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar is in Pakistan but "unwell", Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.


Islamabad: 

Days after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi admitted that the Jaish-e-Mohammed's chief is present in the country, its military has claimed the terror outfit which took responsibility for the Pulwama attack does not exist in Pakistan.

The suicide bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama last month, which left 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force dead, had dragged relations between India and Pakistan to their lowest point in years. After the attack, the Indian Air Force bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility in Pakistan's Balakot. In response, Islamabad sent warplanes to target Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir, leading to the first aerial encounter between the two countries in nearly 50 years.

Days later, in interviews to foreign news networks, Shah Mehmood Qureshi claimed the Jaish-e-Mohammed had not taken responsibility for the Pulwama attack and its chief Masood Azhar, wanted in India for a series of terror strikes including the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was "unwell". In one of the interviews to BBC he appeared to suggest the Pakistani establishment was in touch with the terrorist outfit too, before making a clumsy clarification.

Speaking to CNN, he confirmed that Masood Azhar was in Pakistan but said the government can act against him only if India presents "solid" and "inalienable" evidence that can stand in a court of law.

On Wednesday, Pakistan's top military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said that the Jaish-e-Mohammed's claim of responsibility for the Pulwama attack had not been made from inside Pakistan.

"Jaish-e-Mohammed does not exist in Pakistan. It has been proscribed by the United Nations and Pakistan also. Secondly, we are not doing anything under anybody's pressure," he claimed.

The Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that instead of blaming Pakistan, it is time for the world to assist and facilitate Pakistan in getting rid of such organisations.

When asked if the two countries were close to war after the attack, Major General Asif Ghafoor told CNN, "We were I would say close to war because when they [India] violated the airspace under token aggression, we went for [a] response."

"Along the Line of Control (LoC) we were eyeball-to-eyeball. There is presence of troops at the LoC for decades. But post the Indian aggression and our response, the safeguards have been taken by both side," he said.



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