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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

Taken control of campus reported to be Jaish HQ, says Pakistan. Then hits delete

There was no explanation why the government had taken over the complex.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2019 00:28 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Masood Azhar chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), addresses a press conference in Karachi on February 4, 2000.
Masood Azhar chief of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), addresses a press conference in Karachi on February 4, 2000.(AFP File Photo)
         

Pakistan’s Interior Ministry on Friday announced that the Punjab government had taken control of a campus in Bahawalpur that is “reportedly the headquarters of Jaesh-e-Mohammad”. But the announcement on the website of the Press Information Department, or PID, was deleted in less than an hour.

This was the first time in years that the campus, about 430 km from Lahore, had been acknowledged to be the headquarters of the JeM, the terror group run by Masood Azhar that had claimed responsibility for bombing a CRPF bus in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama last week that killed 40 soldiers.

Two tweets by PID, Pakistan government’s media arm, which did not link the campus comprising Madressatul Sabir and Jama-e-Masjid Subhanallah to the Jaish were not deleted.

Pakistan’s Dawn News later reported that the interior ministry had issued a fresh statement, claiming that the Bahawalpur complex was “purely a madressah and Jamia Masjid (central mosque) where scores of orphans and students from underprivileged families are receiving religious and worldly education”.

There was no fresh explanation why the government had taken over the complex.

Also Read | How Masood Azhar is waging war on India

The initial statement had underlined that the government had taken control of the complex “in line with the decision of the National Security Committee meeting held yesterday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan.”

It was as a follow-up to this meeting that the government yesterday reinstated the ban on Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ut-Dawah (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation.

Pakistan had taken over centres and offices of the JuD soon after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in a similar manner but the restrictions were eased within months.

There has been mounting pressure on Islamabad again to demonstrate that it is acting against terror.

Also Read | Pakistan has shown no interest in addressing terror concerns

India has pledged a response to the Pulwama attack and dismissed Khan’s earlier offer to aid investigations into the attack and to take action if New Delhi provides “actionable intelligence”. First Prime Minister Imran Khan, and today the Pakistan Army, has vowed to full spectrum response if New Delhi carried out any attack.

The National Security Committee too had “noted” that the government did not have anything to do with the Pulwama terror attack and announced that the armed forces had been authorised to respond “decisively and comprehensively to any aggression or misadventure by India.”

First Published: Feb 22, 2019 23:53 IST

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