MUZAFFARABAD, May 14: The government of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday prohibited Maulana Masood Azhar, leader of an outlawed religio-political group, from entering its territory, officials confirmed on Wednesday.

Officials said that the move was aimed at maintaining public order.

Additional secretary of the home department Farhat Ali Mir, while confirming the move, said that the district magistrate, Kotli, had been directed not to allow Maulana Masood Azhar of the defunct Jaish-i-Mohammad group from entering the territory of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Maulana Azhar was scheduled to address a public meeting, arranged by the Khuddamul Islam group, in Kotli in connection with the Eid Miladun Nabi.

The additional secretary said that Mr Azhar had been disallowed from entering the Azad Kashmir because of a proscription on the defunct group.

Jaish-i-Mohammad had been outlawed by President Gen Musharraf’s government in January last year, after the US declared it to be a terrorist organization. New Delhi had blamed the group for a number of deadly attacks, including the one on its Parliament building in December 2001.

Acting deputy commissioner of the Kotli district Sayaduzzaman, while talking to this correspondent, said that the administration would try its best to “persuade” Mr Azhar to return (to Pakistan) from wherever he entered the AJK territory.

But, he said, if the Maulana tried to force his way into Azad Kashmir, the administration would be left with no choice but to arrest him.



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