Pakistan foreign ministry declines to confirm JeM’s chief
GN Staff | January 14, 2016
Pakistan has blinked first and on Thursday it was in touch with India to reschedule the foreign secretary-level talks slated in Islamabad tomorrow (January 15). This came after a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesperson said he wasn’t aware of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar's arrest, as reported in the media.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chowdhury hit a road block after India sought “prompt and decisive action” by Pakistan based on “actionable intelligence” and evidence gathered in the air base that the JeM as involved.
Not confirming Azhar's detention, Pakistan foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Khalilullah Qazi said, "I am not aware of such arrests. Mutual consultations are on about rescheduling the talks. We have said it often that terrorism is common enemy for all. We have to work together to end it."
On Wednesday, India had deferred a decision on whether to go ahead with the Foreign Secretary-level talks with Pakistan and wanted to take it after NSA Ajit Doval's return from Paris.
Mohammad Zubair, a minister in the Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan, told an Indian TV channel that he cannot confirm the arrest of Azhar while Lt General (Retired) Abdul Qadir Baloch, minister for frontier regions, said that "Azhar was arrested". Azhar's brother Abdul Rehman Rauf has also been detained, Geo TV said. However, late in the night external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said India has received no confirmation of the detention of Azhar.
It came just a week after prime minister Narendra Modi’s surprise stopover in Pakistan on premier Nawaz Sharif’s birthday, hailed as a diplomatic coup that displayed New Delhi’s political intent to meaningfully engage with its neighbour.
Earlier on December 9, Sushma Swaraj became the first Indian foreign minister to visit Pakistan since 2012. She met prime minister Sharif on the sidelines of a conference on Afghanistan, the third bilateral engagement at the top level in less than 10 days after an impromptu and brief meeting between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart in Paris on November 30.