Masood Azhar is alive: Pakistani media rejects death rumors
Rejecting widespread rumors about his death, a Pakistani news portal confirmed on Sunday that Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar is alive. Geo News Urdu spoke to sources close to Masood's family to set the record straight, hours after various news channels reported that India's most wanted terrorist was dead. Notably, the Pakistani government has not commented on the speculations yet. Here's more.
"Sources" told media Masood had died, without confirming reason
Quoting unnamed sources, several channels reported the news. However, the reason for the death wasn't elaborated on. While some reports suggested he died due to prolonged illness, others claimed he was hit by IAF airstrikes which happened last week. IAF had attacked JeM's camp in Balakot. Unsurprisingly, the death news became a talking point on Twitter and the trend #MasoodAzharDead garnered hundreds of tweets.
Previously, Pakistani Minister had said Masood was "very unwell"
Earlier, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi admitted Masood was in his country but he was "very unwell" and "couldn't even move". In another interview, Qureshi said there was "confusion" over JeM's role in Pulwama attack. He said "when contacted" JeM denied being involved in the attack, in which 40 CRPF soldiers were martyred. Considering Qureshi spoke about Masood's health, many believed the rumors.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Army shifted Masood to JeM camp
Amid reports of Masood's death, Pakistani Army shifted him to a JeM camp in Goth Ganni in Bhawalpur, according to TOI. Masood was reportedly undergoing treatment for his renal ailment at the Pakistani Army's base hospital in Rawalpindi.
Lesson in history: Masood was released by India in 1999
JeM has been waging a war against India since its inception. The 2001 Parliament attack, 2016 Pathankot attack, and the latest Pulwama attack were all executed by the notorious outfit. What hurts Indians more is the fact that Masood was arrested in 1994 but had to be released in 1999 after terrorists hijacked the IC-814 plane. After getting freedom, Masood became even more dangerous.
Statement of Masood's brother confirmed IAF strikes were successful
Notably, Masood's brother Maulana Ammar in a speech confirmed IAF struck JeM's camp, contradicting Islamabad's version that the jets only harmed a patch of trees. "They attacked the schools where students were being trained to understand jihad better and vowed to help "oppressed" Kashmiris," Ammar said. He told the cadres to "raise weapons and show that jihad was an obligation".
Separately, JeM released statement slamming Imran Khan
JeM, which enjoys clout in Pakistan, isn't happy with Imran Khan government since he is "following" footsteps of Pervez Musharraf. The former President "apparently" cracked down on terror outfits post 9/11. On Sunday, the outfit released a statement denouncing Khan for releasing Wing Commander, Abhinandan Varthaman. "They (Pakistan government) are being soft towards the enemy (India) but tough on their own people," JeM said.