Earlier, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had admitted on March 2, in a television interview, JeM chief Masood Azhar is in Pakistan and is “very unwell”. Later, on March 5, Islamabad claimed to have taken 44 militants, including Azhar’s brother and son, into “preventive custody”.
Later, on March 6, major general Asif Ghafoor said JeM does not exist in Pakistan, and today on March 7, JeM has released an audio tape proclaiming Azhar is alive and also cautioned the authorities to “Fear God”, according to TOI news reports.
Azhar said: “Stop persecuting the mosques, madrassas and mujahideen. Remember, that when a Muslim flees the battle against the hypocrites, the wrath of Allah is upon him.”
Ghafoor told CNN news: “First of all, that (JeM’s) claim has not been made from within Pakistan because JeM does not exist in Pakistan as it has been prescribed by the UN and Pakistan also.”
Interestingly, Ghafoor’s remarks come a day after Islamabad interior ministry admitted detaining Azhar’s brother and son, Mufti Abul Rauf and Hamad Azhar, respectively.
In an audio clip, Azhar said, “There are reports the world over of my death. But, without doubt, God alone decides how long we are to live,” adding, “Today is 4th March 2019. The day has passed, Tuesday night is upon us and I have no way of knowing whether I will be alive when you hear my words.”
Pakistan has on Tuesday launched crackdown over banned militants and organizations and arrested some 44 militants, including Azhar’s son and brother.
When asked why Islamabad authorities had not taken stern action against Azhar, Qureshi had said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government wanted “solid, inalienable evidence” in order to convince the “people and the independent judiciary of Pakistan” of their actions.