There seems to be little progress in India’s pursuit of dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, who is believed to be the mastermind behind the recent Pathankot attack. On Thursday, New Delhi said it would again move the United Nations for sanctions against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar. “We will be moving 1267 Sanctions Committee to include the name of Masood Azhar on the sanctions list,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. “It is a great anomaly that Jaish-e-Mohammed is listed but not its leader.” He said that India had already submitted to the UN Sanction Committee a fresh list of 11 terrorists from Pakistan-based terror groups affiliated with al-Qaeda, Taliban and other outfits responsible for terrorism in the country. The UN had banned JeM in 2001 but India’s efforts to ban Azhar after the Mumbai terror attacks failed. The major stumbling block behind that attempt was China, one of the five permanent members of the UN group with veto powers. China’s decision to veto India’s claim allegedly came at the behest of Islamabad. Irrespective of China’s alleged complicity, it is evident that sanctions against Azhar will do little to soothe India’s security concerns. Back in December 2008, the United Nations Security Council had declared the JuD a terrorist organisation and its leader Hafiz Saeed a terrorist. The US government even put a $10 million bounty on Saeed for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attack. Did it deter Saeed from stepping out and conducting anti-India activities? The answer is a resounding no. Despite immense international pressure on Pakistan to restrain the likes of Hafiz Saeed, he is allowed to move freely. Speaking at a public rally earlier this month, Saeed had praised the terror attack in Pathankot. Addressing a rally of around one thousand people in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Saeed reportedly said, “800,000 Indian troops are committing genocide on Kashmiris. Don’t they have a right to carry out Pathankot-style attacks for their defence?” He went on to add that matters could “easily escalate” between Indian and Pakistan
On the question of investigations into the Pathankot attack, Pakistan has moved at a snail’s pace. Earlier this week, Pakistan set up a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the Pathankot airbase terror attack, a week after it lodged an FIR into the incident. Subject to permission from the Indian government to conduct its own investigation, the JIT would be visiting the airbase next month to gather evidence. Earlier, a six-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up by the government to carry out an initial probe into the case based on the leads given by India. Reports indicate that the SIT would become dysfunctional once government formally transferred its powers to the JIT. On February 18, Pakistan lodged an FIR in connection with the Pathankot terror attack without naming Masood Azhar, despite the mountain of evidence presented by New Delhi. The previous SIT’s contention that no evidence was found against Masood Azhar and JeM for their alleged role in the Pathankot had only indicated Pakistan’s unwillingness to dismantle these terror networks. What New Delhi expects from the JIT is anyone’s guess. “The ball is, therefore, in (Indian Prime Minister) Modi’s court. He may well give Pakistan more time, but it is doubtful if he will be able to show that his Pakistan policy has persuaded Pakistan to turn its back on terror,” writes Vivek Katju, a retired Indian diplomat and an old Pakistan hand. “Will he then proceed to engage Pakistan despite its calibrated use of terrorism? The Foreign Secretary hinted so though he did not elaborate on the nature of the engagement. More explicitly, can the proposed Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue go hand-in-hand with terrorism?” One hopes that given more time, Pakistan can be expected to deliver. But many remain sceptical.