Ahead of FATF visit, Pakistan doubles attempts to ‘trace’ Masood Azhar

Senior FATF group to validate if Pakistan, on the ‘grey list’ given that 2018, has carried out job checklist actions

Senior FATF crew to confirm if Pakistan, on the ‘grey list’ considering that 2018, has carried out activity record steps

As Pakistan enters the closing phases of its attempts to be taken off the Monetary Action Job Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’ this year, all eyes are on motion in opposition to Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) founder Masood Azhar, and his brother Abdul Rauf Asghar, two of the adult males most wished by India for their part in a lot of terror assaults, which includes the IC 814 aeroplane hijack in 1999 and Parliament assault in 2001. Though Rauf Asghar was taken into custody along with 44 JeM members in 2019, officers say Pakistani law enforcement companies are now in the process of “assessing” Masood Azhar’s whereabouts, such as on no matter whether he is in Pakistan. The Pakistani law enforcement agencies have talked about tracking Azhar’s possible go to Afghanistan with the Taliban routine as nicely, the officers claimed.

The Pakistani lookup for Azhar is becoming speeded up with some urgency, officers verified, as a senior FATF team is anticipated to pay a visit to Islamabad and other metropolitan areas for an “on-web page visit” from August 28-September 2, to confirm no matter whether Pakistan has carried out all the actions on its 34-level job list handed immediately after it was set on the ‘grey list’ in 2018. If the workforce is pleased by its findings, Pakistan is predicted to be formally taken off the “increased monitoring” listing, as the ‘grey list’ is regarded, through the FATF’s future plenary session in Oct this calendar year.

According to submissions by the Pakistani authorities, its National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) held a assembly in early March to coordinate the hunt for Masood Azhar, who businesses declare is on the operate, and the approach to declare Azhar a “proclaimed offender” is less than way. A terror funding case was also lodged against Azhar in March 2021, and far more investigations are “contingent on the arrest of Masood Azhar”, the submissions claimed. Pakistani investigations appear to conclude that Azhar is now both in Afghanistan, exactly where the JeM has quite a few education camps, or in Pakistan’s Khyber Puktunkhwa and Balochistan alongside the border, following a variety of search operations in Pakistani Punjab had been reportedly unsuccessful.

Pakistan has also lifted the issue with the Taliban regime at a “ministerial level” in January 2022, and is next up the ask for, the submissions reported. Pakistan pointed to a report submitted by the UN’s Analytical Help and Sanctions Monitoring Crew to the UN Safety Council’s Counter Terror Committee, which India heads at present. The team’s 13th report, submitted on May 26, 2022, reported that the JeM is “a Deobandi team that is ideologically closer to the Taliban”, and that the JeM maintains eight teaching camps in Nangarhar province, with JeM fighters numbering in the “few hundreds”.

Indian officers were being sceptical of Pakistan’s claims that stability forces are unaware of Masood Azhar’s movements, given his prominence at his base in Bahawalpur, as effectively as regularly publicised hospitalisations for dialysis at a medical center in Rawalpindi. They pointed to the current arrest of the Let handler and mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Sajid Mir, whom Pakistan experienced declared as “dead” right up until past 12 months. Nonetheless, following U.S. force in December 2021, Pakistan “re-evaluated” the forensic proof on Mir in February 2022 and concluded he was alive. An intense hunt was then introduced, their officers claimed, which resulted in Mir’s arrest when he came to visit his ailing mother in April this 12 months, and he was convicted and sentenced for terror funding within three weeks, just prior to a meeting between Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

As Pakistani officers assert they are closing in on Masood Azhar, New Delhi is viewing intently. Masood Azhar, who was in Indian custody for plotting terror attacks for several several years in the 1990s, was freed on December 31, 1999 in trade for the protection of a lot more than 150 passengers and crew customers on board Indian Airlines flight IC 814 in an eight-working day ordeal in Kandahar. Azhar was freed together with other terrorists, Omar Sheikh and Mushtaq Zargar, in whole watch of dwell cameras, and then permitted to return to Pakistan by the Taliban ruling Afghanistan at the time. In spite of that, he was not on the world wide most preferred listing soon after 9/11 and it took 19 years, just after the Pulwama attacks in February 2019, where by 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers have been killed allegedly by a JeM militant, for Masood Azhar to be named as a UNSC-selected terrorist.

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