For India, Jaish chief Masood Azhar bigger threat than Hafiz Saeed
JaisheMohammed chief Masood Azhar keeps a low profile unlike Mumbai serial blasts mastermind Hafiz Saeed and has escaped being banned, with China’s help.
INDIA Updated: Feb 14, 2017 17:16 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
And while the Indian security establishment and government had largely focussed on the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its founder Hafiz Saeed in the quest for justice after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, there are some who now believe Azhar poses a more potent threat.
This is the man whose group has been blamed for last year’s brazen attacks on Indian military facilities at Pathankot and Nagrota that killed nearly 30. And while Saeed has continued to speak to the media even after being put under house arrest, Azhar has kept a low profile, writing occasional columns under the pen name “Saadi” in JeM’s publications and focussing on the Kashmir issue to motivate cadre.
Despite reports that Pakistan had placed Azhar in “protective custody” after the JeM was blamed for the Pathankot attack, security sources said this had not, in any way, affected his activities.
Security analysts believe it is more “cost effective” for Pakistan’s security establishment to use a proxy such as Azhar, who formed the JeM after he was freed by India with two other jihadi commanders for the passengers of an Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in 1999.
They point out that Azhar, unlike Saeed, has not been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council committee on al-Qaeda and Islamic State and is thus under less scrutiny from the world order after severing links to groups that are perceived as threats by the West.
“Azhar is not vocal, he doesn’t address rallies. He also doesn’t take a role in politics like Saeed, who is active in the Defa-e-Pakistan Council. Instead, he focusses on recruitment, indoctrination and is considered a major asset by the Pakistani intelligence set-up,” Animesh Roul, executive director of the Society for Study of Peace and Conflict, told Hindustan Times.
“And China has been doing Pakistan’s job of protecting Azhar,” he said, referring to the repeated blocking of efforts by India and the US to get the JeM chief banned by the al-Qaeda and Islamic State committee of the UN.