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Rana Sanaullah in a talk show says Azhar will be "arrested when his involvement in Pathankot attack is proven". ─ AFP/File
Rana Sanaullah in a talk show says Azhar will be "arrested when his involvement in Pathankot attack is proven". ─ AFP/File

LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Thursday confirmed that Jaish-i-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar is under 'protective custody'.

Speaking on DawnNews talk show 'News Eye', Sanaullah while responding to a question confirmed that Masood Azhar was taken into protective custody by the counter-terrorism department.

When asked if his custody can be termed an 'arrest', the provincial law minister explained that Azhar will only face arrest and legal action if his involvement in the Pathankot attack is proved beyond doubt.

Related: Not aware of Jaish founder Masood Azhar's arrest: Foreign Office

As Pakistan on Wednesday announced the arrest of Jaish members and started sealing the organisation's offices, some media reports had suggested the arrest of Azhar, who has been named by New Delhi as the mastermind of the Pathankot airbase attack.

Related: Jaish's Masood Azhar reportedly taken into custody

However, the Foreign Office had said in the morning that it is not aware of the arrest of Jaish-i-Mohammad chief while Bahawalpur DPO Sarfaraz Ahmad Falki had also expressed ignorance about house arrest of Maulana Azhar or any other arrests in his district.

Related: Pakistan arrests Jaish members in connection with India air base attack

Pathankot attack

At least seven Indian military personnel were killed in the first week of January during an explosion and hours long gunbattle at India's Pathankot air base near the border with Pakistan.

The attack took place a week after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a stopover in Lahore to wish Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his birthday and attend the latter's granddaughter’s wedding at Jati Umra.

Related: Pak-based groups to face action if role proved: PM

Azhar's story

Azhar was arrested in India in February 1994. But India was forced to release him and two others — Mushtaq Zargar and Umar Sheikh — in Dec 1999 in exchange for passengers and crews of an Indian flight that was hijacked by militants linked to Harkatul Mujahideen from Kathmandu and forced to land in Kandahar.

Maulana Azhar’s brother Rauf is believed to have masterminded the hijacking.

After his return to Pakistan, Maulana Azhar split with Harkatul Mujahideen in 2000 and formed his own militant outfit Jaish-i-Mohammad.

Comments (71) Closed

Changez_Khan Jan 15, 2016 12:29am

Don't lose him, put him behind bars.

Bharat Jan 15, 2016 12:33am

Protective custody? Not arrested and charged?

Ahmed USA Jan 15, 2016 12:54am

Well now the ball is India’s court... do more to alleviate suffering of Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir and provide "concrete actionable" evidence to justify Indian allegations... also it has been almost 10 years since 2007 and still families of Samojtha Express victims are demanding answers as to when will the real instigators culprits will get caught and convicted...

Zak Jan 15, 2016 01:08am

@Bharat not on Indian evidence, which is as reliable as RSS evidence would be against muslims of India.

Zak Jan 15, 2016 01:08am

@Ahmed USA exactly right.

ali Jan 15, 2016 01:29am

He has been protected by Pak from Indian threat.

Sarwar, USA. Jan 15, 2016 01:36am

India need to provide concrete evidence to charge...

qwekids Jan 15, 2016 01:36am

@Ahmed USA Read Christine fair.

Naeem Jan 15, 2016 01:37am

Put this terrorist in jail and try him.Islam is a peaceful religion and condemns the murder of the innocent.

Kailash Jan 15, 2016 01:37am

I remember the events unfolded in the same manner in 26/11 case, so don't want to jump to conclusions so early. Protective custody means nothing. He will soon walk out free. But unlike 26/11 time is not on Pakistan's side. US Congress has blocked its aid.

Unshackle Pakistan Jan 15, 2016 01:40am

Protective custody means he's prevented from going underground or disappearing into Afghanistan.

akkuturaju, usa Jan 15, 2016 01:43am

@Ahmed USA

Sir, we have to avoid blood shed either side.

Dare Jan 15, 2016 01:50am

"When asked if his custody can be termed an 'arrest', the provincial law minister explained that Azhar will only face arrest and legal action if his involvement in the Pathankot attack is proved beyond doubt."

Are you serious Mr Sanaullah?

Aren't other Pakistani citizens arrested with reasonable or even little evidence much before the accusation is proven beyond doubt?

Indian Jan 15, 2016 01:52am

@Ahmed USA It looks you have already started justification. It has nothing to do with Kashmir. Is any of the terrorist were Kashmiri ? How do you know ? Samjota express blasts killed more Indians than Pakistanis and it happened in India and Indian agencies without any pressure or help arrested alleged perpetrators. Cross border terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds.

vijay Jan 15, 2016 01:58am

@Ahmed USA : Common man, don't give the Samojtha Express as a reason for every attack on Indian soil. Indians are also affected by the slow justice system not just the Samojtha Express victims.

As far as Kashmir is concerned just follow Nawa Sharif's agreement with Clinton: "respect the sanctity of LOC in Kashmir"

SBPM Jan 15, 2016 02:16am

He should have been arrested a long time ago and put in the jail full time because he was released after a plane was hijacked. Instead, he settled in Pakistan and ran a flourishing terrorist network.

Philosopher (from Japan) Jan 15, 2016 02:21am

Why? Pakistan has constantly been claiming that raw is behind the turbulence in Baluchistan, did INDIA act upon our reservations??? Pakistan should punish terrorists without distinguishing good n bad, be it from Jesh or LeJ or any other xyz, but it should be done with sovereignty not under pressure of external country.

Human Jan 15, 2016 02:26am

So, did Rauf go to prison? And why would Pakistan accept this man's freedom resulting from a criminal act such as a hijacking? Why do we dig holes and then insist on falling into them....?

gul Jan 15, 2016 02:50am

what if allegations are not proved after thorough investigations...

any compansation for him or his organization by both governments?

Malik Jan 15, 2016 02:51am

@Ahmed USA What relevance they have with this matter?

Bharat Jan 15, 2016 03:00am

A new warning from Masood

Any action against us will be dangerous for Pakistan

shenanigans Jan 15, 2016 03:03am

@Ahmed USA that's a good one!!

HR Jan 15, 2016 03:08am

@Ahmed........You have been repeating the same thing since last couple of days about Samjuta express. ...instead why don't you do some research. The culprits are in jail for more than 5 years or so...

shahid Jan 15, 2016 03:08am

Confusion as usual, hall mark of present government!!!!!

mayuresh Jan 15, 2016 03:15am

Nothing has changed. Move on folks

Cyrus Jan 15, 2016 03:24am

He is in protective custody. So he does not want to try and escape and be shot in the back.

Farhan Jan 15, 2016 03:27am

Once talks are over he will be out.

Hasnain Haque Jan 15, 2016 03:38am

What kind of Maulanas advocate violence.

Akbar Khan Jan 15, 2016 03:42am

This people are like black spot on Islam. They fight against India on the name of islam. But when our friend China, goes hard on Muslims. They keep quiet.

This people are exposed and no one in the world believes us. Time to get rid of them.

fawad Jan 15, 2016 03:46am

Leader of the "hardline" party that stormed PIA office needs to be arrested and charged with terrorism as well.

Proud Pakistani Jan 15, 2016 03:47am

Huh? I thought officially he was not in Pakistan..!

a_writer Jan 15, 2016 04:01am

@Ahmed USA

Your sheer determination to humble India, even at the cost of hardship to people of both countries is highly commendable, especially when you are making such great personal sacrifice by living far away from it all in the US.

Khanra Jan 15, 2016 04:36am

@vijay Respect LOC? How can an Indian say that when it's actually illegal to even depict the LOC on any map in your country?

wasim Jan 15, 2016 04:56am

so the indians have prior knowledge, what minority has a watch full eye in pakistan? when the attack happened india pointed at the jaish, so who in pakistan told the indians?

Ahmed USA Jan 15, 2016 05:01am

@qwekids ... Journalists are not necessarily omniscient... Respect all opinions though… Reading one-sided narrative and forming an opinion on that basis is not appropriate… All Indian intellects are invited to take pains and visit Kashmir, Gujrat and victims of Samjotha Express to investigate the real account of horror they endured… Culprits of such atrocities whether in India or Pakistan should be dealt with in strictest accordance with law of the land…

Kalashnikov Jan 15, 2016 05:04am

@Hasnain Haque almost every kind

Ahmed USA Jan 15, 2016 05:26am

@Indian ... It is abundantly clear that you have already formed a biased opinion... terrorism and atrocities committed in the name of nationalism, religion or any other reason... whether cross-border or within border... whether state sponsored or by non-state actors... are all highly condemnable acts whish has no place in civilized world... period...

Ayub Jan 15, 2016 05:39am

If he is really involved in the case then he should be be tried for the offence. He has also the right to heard and entitled to defend himself before the court. The onus is on India to produce solid and tangible evidence against him before the court. He is a Pakistani national, living in Pakistan, so he should be tried in Pakistan.

AHA Jan 15, 2016 06:59am

There is something called 'Honesty' which is need of the hour. The price of ignorance can not be estimated.

Sham Singh Mastana Jan 15, 2016 07:17am

In Indo-Pak politics, what they mean by ""protective custody""is that the Indians now cannot touch him or get access to him.

Ghazanfar Sanpal Jan 15, 2016 07:17am

@Ahmed USA Yes, exactly.

Arun Jan 15, 2016 07:36am

He is a fugitive who escaped from the prison following IC 814 Hijack. How can he be innocent?

truth Jan 15, 2016 07:56am

@Sarwar, USA. There is no such thing 100% full proof evidence in the world of small crime, forget terror groups. The evidence has to be built from the smaller stuff. Ask any serious investigator... Now based on the history of terror within Pak soil, I would say Pak agencies can easily build the case if the intentions are right. So the key question is - is Pak headed towards the right direction as a matured and modern nation and do what is right where terror is concerned ?

Piyush Jan 15, 2016 08:04am

@Hasnain Haque, "What kind of Maulanas advocate violence."

A fake one.

Fazal Karim Jan 15, 2016 08:38am

Rana Sanaullah saheb says that Masood Azhar will be arrested after his involvement in Pathankot attack is proved. This is contrary to actual practice in Pakistan. People in Pakistan are arrested on doubts and initial cursory evidence in the involvement in a criminal case. Final proof is required in court for conviction.

Sr Jan 15, 2016 08:59am

@Ahmed USA first Pakistan has to dismantle all terror groups for any conducive talks and asking anyone to do any favours

Raghavendra Jan 15, 2016 09:01am

The man was exchanged by the hijackers of an Indian plane in Afghanistan which pakistan denies involvement in. How is such a guy living freely in pakistan??

kaushal Jan 15, 2016 09:13am

@Akbar Khan I agree with you

Jai Jan 15, 2016 09:18am

The article states the following:

  1. Azhar was arrested in India in February 1994. But India was forced to release him in exchange for passengers and crews of an Indian flight that was hijacked by militants linked to Harkatul Mujahideen from Kathmandu and forced to land in Kandahar.

  2. Maulana Azhar’s brother Rauf is believed to have masterminded the hijacking.

  3. After his return to Pakistan, Maulana Azhar split with Harkatul Mujahideen in 2000 and formed his own militant outfit Jaish-i-Mohammad.

And yet you need evidence to charge him???

Tango Jan 15, 2016 09:41am

Why dont people talk of Kashmir. Kashmir needs freedom. Why this banned organization exist at the first place. Simply because of atrocities committed by indian army in Kashmir. For how long do indians think they can silence the voices through their guns. I am also ashmed of Pakistan not raising its voice for liberation of Kashmir. Kashmir is destined to be Free Land. Its not something to be decided between Indian and Pakistan. It is something to be decided by People of Kashmir.

Omar Jan 15, 2016 09:51am

Can we get rid of all such people. This guy is a double agent that was released from India. He was probably 'planted'.

splash Jan 15, 2016 09:57am

@Sarwar, USA. you need proof for man who was released by hijacking a plane???

Ramesh Nakhwa Jan 15, 2016 09:58am

@wasim bad days for Pakistan ahead

Shiva Jan 15, 2016 10:05am

@Akbar Khan Rightly said Boss

SRIDHAR RAGHUNATHA RAO Jan 15, 2016 10:05am

Problems seems to persist this way. Likewise peace eludes.

Pramod Kumar Jan 15, 2016 10:09am

@gul Just read the whole news above , This guy was in Indian custody for terrorist activities in India. He was released as ransom for kidnapped flight passenger. JeM has taken the responsibility of it .

Citizen Jan 15, 2016 10:14am

@Farhan. Which talks??.

Sumit Jan 15, 2016 10:23am

From most the comments it seems all are in sync that people with wrong intentions against humanity or involved in wrong doings should be punished. This person was involved in IC814 case as well and then again he is in news with wrong reason then the law should prevail.

cool Jan 15, 2016 11:44am

@Ahmed USA Kashmiris are not terrorists , neither they want to merge with Pak. Most of them happy to be wit in India. An small group makes nice there to be in lime light and get money from our side. A Common Kashmiri is more interested in earning for bread and butter and for future of their children.

cool Jan 15, 2016 11:46am

@Akbar Khan True. Such people are harmful for society.

Ravee Jan 15, 2016 11:51am

India's evidence is not strong enough to charge him.

Dipak Singh Jan 15, 2016 11:53am

Proof?? he already a criminal & terrorists even before Pathankot Incident. did you remember of Indian Plane Hijack in Gandhar Mr. Minister?

saurabh singh Jan 15, 2016 12:20pm

it is high time for the leadership of subcontinent that they do not give long rope to extremist ideologists and take decisive actions against them. And then government and leadership should squarely focus on development, basic and broad minded modern education and poverty alleviation. But do we have such kind of leadership at ground?

Manoj Jan 15, 2016 02:01pm

What's protective custody? And for what ?

raja Jan 15, 2016 02:44pm

@Sarwar, USA. : Not concrete evidence Pakistan should do a Joint Operation with India then u will get everything if ur a good neighbour for growth and peace.

Parvez Jan 15, 2016 03:00pm

That was expected ....nothing new. What needs careful thought is ' Who does Maulana Azhar actually work for ?' .....his past history is dubious at best.

sheikh Jan 15, 2016 08:06pm

these people have tarnished image of peaceful islam by there terrorist activities. they must be put behind bars and given severe punishment

Praveen... Jan 16, 2016 07:59am

Why is it call protective custody? Who is the custody protecting?

Dr. Pavel Barman Jan 17, 2016 12:21am

@fawad ..he is already arrested buddy.

Abdul Malik Jan 17, 2016 06:20am

@Changez_Khan for ever

Krishna Jan 18, 2016 12:11am

An Afghani, upon landing at Islamabad Airport, introduced himself to a Pakistan Immigration Officer, as Ex-Minister of Ports & Shipping of Afghanistan.

The surprised Pakistani Officer asked: "But there is no sea in Afghanistan. How can you be the Ex-Minister of Ports & Shipping.?"

The Afghani replied: "Wallah ya Habibi, don't you have a Minister for Law & Justice in Pakistan.?"