India ridicules Pakistan's denial on Masood Azhar
India on Friday ridiculed Pakistan for denying presence of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar in that country despite his being visible there till recently.
“These type of denials we are accustomed with,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in New Delhi when asked to comment on Pakistan Interior Adviser Rehman Malik’s claim that Azhar was not present in that country.
Mukherjee said India had “several times” got different information from the Pakistani sources on Masood Azhar.
“We were told he (Azhar) is under house arrest. Thereafter, we were told he is not visible. I do not understand if somebody is not visible, how could he be under house arrest,” he said.
Soon after the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar had told an Indian news channel that Azhar had been put under house arrest in Pakistan.
However, a few days later, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had claimed that Azhar was not in Pakistan.
“It is not unusual that these type of denials have come occasionally from Pakistani officials,” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee was commenting on Malik’s claim on Wednesday that Azhar as also underworld don Dawood Ibrahim were not in Pakistan.
Azhar and two other terrorists were freed by India in exchange for the passengers of an Indian Airlines flight that was hijacked from Kathmandu to Kandahar in December 1999.
Azhar formed the Jaish-e-Mohammed soon after his release.
Azhar has been often shown on Pakistani television channels participating in public meetings and other programmes before the November 26 attacks.
However, as the world pressure mounted after the Mumbai attacks, he appears to have gone underground.