Islamabad: Pakistani investigators have concluded that Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar has no role in the last month’s terror attack on Pathankot airbase, media reports said.
“A team constituted by Pakistan to investigate the last month’s deadly attack on an Indian airbase has concluded that there is no substantive evidence to suggest Maulana Masood Azhar, the head of the outlawed Jaish-e-Muhammad militant group, ordered or masterminded the assault,” reported a Pakistani newspaper, adding the findings had been shared with India.
Pakistan authorities held Maulana Masood Azhar in “protective custody” soon after the January 2 Pathankot incident. Several other suspects were arrested and authorities closed down a number of JeM-run madrasas (seminaries) in different cities.
Officials said Maulana Azhar, who was released from an Indian prison in 1999 in exchange for the release of 155 passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane, was quizzed by the investigators. The JeM chief’s brother Mufti Abdul Rehman Rauf is also detained.
Pakistan is likely to send a special investigating team to Pathankot in consultation with the government of India for further investigations.
On January 2, a heavily-armed group attacked the Pathankot Air Force station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force. Five attackers and seven security forces personnel were killed in the battle. India has maintained that the attackers, who were wearing Indian army fatigues, belonged to JeM.
Following the attacks, the Indian and Pakistani governments both agreed to postpone scheduled diplomatic talks until the end of January....