May 2003 News

Masood Azhar Banned From Entering PoK

14 May 2003
The Indian Express

Islamabad: There are more indications from across the border about the seriousness with which Pakistan is addressing India's concerns over terrorism. Today, the Pakistani authorities banned Maulana Masood Azhar from entering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Indian Express on Wednesday reported that Pakistan had started to disarm the Hizbul Mujahideen camps in PoK. Azhar, the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed, had been under house arrest in Pakistan for almost a year until he was released in December. He planned to address a rally in PoK on Thursday. Officials cited security reasons for preventing Azhar from addressing a religious gathering in Kotli district. An official said that Azhar was not allowed into PoK 'keeping in view the government of Pakistan's policy.' Speaking from his Bahawalpur home in Punjab province, Azhar said the move was aimed at appeasing India. 'It is unjustified to stop me from going to (Pakistan-occupied) Kashmir to express solidarity with freedom struggle in Indian-held Kashmir,' Azhar told AFP. Azhar was one of the three militants released by India in 1999 in exchange for the release of passengers on the hijacked Indian airlines flight IC-814. The move to stop the militant travelling to Kashmir came days after the beginning of a thaw in relations between India and Pakistan. Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's attempt to raise the Jammu and Kashmir at the United Nations Security Council drew a calm response from New Delhi today. While expressing 'regret' that Islamabad had chosen to raise the issue in the UNSC, the Government chose to draw attention to the fact that no other member barring Pakistan raised the issue. An MEA spokesperson, in fact, emphasised there was 'no support' for the issue at the Council. In his address at UNSC, Kasuri tried to highlight the issue of J&K by stating that a 'durable solution' to this problem could not be found without taking into account the J&K peoples aspirations. Pakistan's bid to conduct a plebiscite in the state was rejected by India on the grounds that events had overtaken such an approach. Pakistan, which took over the chairmanship of the UNSC for the next one month, had been indicating that it would raise the issue at the Council. However, New Delhi has been constantly maintaining that Pakistan has tried to raise the issue at every forum, but there has been no support to this endeavour by Islamabad.


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