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Pakistan should prosecute JeM in a transparent manner


Well-known member
After the Balakot airstrikes, Pakistan seems to have launched a crackdown on terrorist groups within the country. As many as 44 members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) have been taken in “preventive detention”. The detainees include Mufti Abdul Raoof and Hamad Azhar, brother and son, respectively, of JeM chief, Masood Azhar. The terrorist groups headed by 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind, Hafiz Saeed — Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation — too have been banned. Pakistan’ foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, has claimed that these actions haven’t been taken in response to India’s coercive pressure but were decided much before the Pulwama attack in keeping with Pakistan’s obligations to the international community.

In any case, it is too early for India to declare victory. This film has played out many times before. Pakistan has often banned these terrorist groups but this did not mean much in practice. It takes many such cosmetic measures in order to show its compliance to members of the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body tasked with fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. Even after the 2001 Parliament attack in New Delhi, Pakistan had banned JeM. That did not stop it from seeking China’s help to protect Masood Azhar from sanctions in the United Nations. India furnished a heap of evidence against Saeed after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, but Pakistan never mounted a serious prosecution against him in the courts. After the 2016 Pathankot attack, a Pakistani investigative team was given access to the Indian Air Force base in order to nail JeM’s culpability, but once again nothing happened. Even this time, Pakistan has just taken these JeM terrorists into preventive custody. Whether it will prosecute them with sincerity is yet to be seen. Pakistan has been demanding proof from India of JeM’s involvement in the Pulwama attack; a dossier has indeed been sent. These dossiers haven’t worked in the past.

The best thing that Pakistan can do is to hand over both Masood Azhar and Saeed to India. No other step can improve the relations between the two countries like this one. However, it is highly unlikely that the Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan can take this decision even if he wanted to. The Pakistani army has nurtured a number of terrorist groups to use them against India and Afghanistan. It won’t give them up easily. If serious prosecutions don’t follow, India and the international community should think of more measures to correct Pakistan’s behaviour.


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