February 2019 News

Masood Azhar Tries To Absolve Pak Of Pulwama Blame

21 February 2019
Aakash Hassan

New Delhi: Facing international pressure in the wake of Pulwama attack, Jaish chief Masood Azhar in a purported audio has tried to delink Pakistan from the suicide bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 soldiers last week. 'Kashmiri freedom struggle doesn't need any foreign support. The attacker was a Kashmiri and it happened near Srinagar, not near the border of Pakistan,' Azhar said, adding that Pakistan should not be blamed for the attack. He asked the Pakistan government 'not to succumb to the pressure from India'. 'Pulwama attack was carried out by a Kashmiri on murderous India and as usual it is crying all over the world. But this time it didn't work,' he said adding that even the US President didn't mention it or condemn it. 'European Union also didn't put forth any statement on it and Chinese media didn't report it,' he said in the audio clip that is being circulated in the Valley. The attack on February 14 was carried out by 21-year-old Adil Ahmad Dar, a resident of south Kashmir's Pulwama, after he rammed an explosive-ladden car into the fourth bus of a CRPF convoy near Lethpora area of Pulwama. 'If the government of Pakistan remains strong, Modi will go further backwards. But if our government comes under the pressure of Modi and accepts some of his demands, it can help him regain his position,' he said. India is not being heard globally this time, Azhar said, given the attacker was a Kashmiri. Azhar is the chief of Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed. He was released in December 1999 by India in exchange of passengers of the Indian Airlines IC-814 that was hijacked and flown to Kandahar. He subsequently founded the Jaish in 2000 with help from Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI, the then Taliban regime in Afghanistan and also Osama Bin Laden. In 2001, USA declared it a terrorist organisation and a year later, Pakistan was forced to ban the outfit. Azhar's nephew, Mohammed Usman, was killed in a gunfight in October 2018 in Kashmir's Pulwama district. Usman had reportedly created a four-member sniper cell in Kashmir. In the audio message, Azhar has said that the attack is answer to the claims that militancy has been wiped out from Kashmir. He also said that the attack has badly affected Prime Minister Narendra Modi's position ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. 'Some people are saying this attack will help Narendra Modi in his election campaign. This is not true,' Azhar said in the audio clip. 'People who think so don't understand India's politics nor are they aware of the Hindu mindset. This has sent his popularity to the graveyard. He was making hullaballoo about the elimination of militant ranks by operation all-out. So how did this attack happen?' Masood said further in the eight-minute-long audio. After the attack on security forces in Pulwama, France has said it will move a proposal at the United Nations to designate Azhar as a global terrorist. China has been the only member in the 15-nation United Nations organ to put hold on India's application to brand Azhar as a global terrorist, which will put a ban on his travels and freeze his assets. The militants of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit are planning to execute another IED attack in north Kashmir area, according to sources. The apprehensions about the attack come after Hizb commander Riyaz Naikoo warned of Pulwama-like attacks. As per sources, a green colour Scorpio vehicle is being prepared for the 14 February-like suicide attack. The attack is reportedly being planned in Chokibal and Tangdhar areas of Kupwara district, sources said. These areas are close to the Line of Control and have been one of the major infiltration routes. Five to six militants are also ready to infiltrate in the Gurez area, as per the intelligence sources.