Pakistan accepts Masood Azhar’s presence, Pak minister says- he is ailing

Pakistan has finally admitted that Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar is in Pakistan and is “unwell”. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Friday said his government can act against Azhar only if India presents “solid” and “inalienable” evidence that can stand in a court of law.

His remarks come amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of the February 14 Pulwama attack where 40 CRPF men were killed by a suicide bomber for which Jaish had claimed responsibility.

Following Qureshi’s remarks, India, backed by France, the United States and the United Kingdom, is all set to move a fresh proposal before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) naming Azhar and Jaish responsible for the Pulwama attack, seeking a ban.

During a TV interview, Qureshi said, ‘he (Azhar) is in Pakistan and according to my information, he is unwell and so much that he cannot leave his house.’ Further, when asked about India trying to get Azhar listed before the UNSC and whether Pakistan would welcome it, Qureshi said, ‘We will be open to any step that leads to de-escalation and if they (India) have good, solid evidence, please sit and talk. Please initiate a dialogue, we will show reasonableness.’

Over the last week, India carried out air strikes against a Jaish training camp in Pakistan occupied Kashmir’s Balakot after which Pakistan claimed it shot down an Indian fighter jet over Pakistani air space and arrested IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was later released on Friday.

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