Masood Azhar is 'missing'. Pakistan government has told FATF, which is currently holding its session in Paris, that no FIR can be registered against him and the government should not be held responsible for not taking any concrete action against him.
Azhar is missing along with his family and can not be traced. Or, at least, this is the official version. A version that clashes with the previous claims—made while one of the previous FATF sessions was going on—that Masood Azhar had been placed under arrest. It also clashes with the voice of the JeM emir in audio messages released for his supporters despite him being “very ill” in a military hospital in Rawalpindi.
Not Only is Masood Azhar Not ‘Missing’, JeM is Actively Working with Taliban
According to local sources, Masood Azhar has been moving freely during all this months. Eye witnesses have confirmed seeing Azhar at the Markaz Usman-o-Ali and Markaz Subhan Allah in his hometown in Bahawalpur between 10-25 November 2019. He has also addressed JeM cadres during this period. JeM functionaries like Yousaf Azhar—who is in-charge of the Markaz in Balakot—and Talha Saif, younger brother of Masood Azhar (MA), were also present in Bahawalpur during this period.
Not only this, the JeM has been closely working since months with the Taliban.
Last week, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a meeting with US Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, highlighted the fact that the Afghan government had not "seen any notable developments and concrete anti-terrorism steps taken by Pakistan" and that the Taliban's sanctuaries remain a dilemma that must be addressed.
Local sources have been highlighting that the Taliban are still very much active in Pakistan. Despite the official narrative, donations are still being collected by Pakistani elements of the Taliban in the name of Afghan Jihad in many regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and in Balochistan areas bordering Afghanistan. Those who refused to donate were shot at and treated mercilessly.
Donations and Recruitment For ‘Jihad’ Continues in Pakistan Unchallenged
The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) and its supporters have been highlighting the regrouping of the Taliban in their land and how the Pakistan Army and the intelligence have been giving them a clean chit to operate there. On 24 January 2020, a Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) representative announced from Al-Saudi Mosque in Gulbai Khan village of Mardan, that jihad was still going on in Afghanistan and Muslims must give donations for this jihad.
Locals in Mohmand district of KPK have recently complained that members of Jaish-e-Mohammad were openly collecting donations in mosques and luring youth for jihadi training.
The same locals have been saying for months now that the JeM, in fact, has maintained close ties with the Afghan Taliban, and has been providing them with a continuous stream of Pakistani recruits from the provinces of South Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.
The JeM’s training camps, including the one at Balakot, have supplied a sizeable number of fighters that have aided the ground successes of the Afghan Taliban. Furthermore, the JeM has also provided suicide bombers to the Taliban and the Haqqani Network for executing attacks in Afghanistan. Not only the JeM, 72 other organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhanghvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, TTP, People’s Aman Committee, Ahle-Sunnatwal Jamat etc. continue to collect donations without any fear of the government.
The people of bordering regions are regularly facing such harassment with law enforcement agencies ignoring or failing to punish the guilty.
Pakistan’s Habit of Turning a Blind Eye Towards Terror Outfits
Pakistan has, for long, feigned ignorance about the presence of the Taliban on its soil in areas bordering Afghanistan like Kuchlak, Qilla Abdullah, Chaman city, and other regions. However, recent incidents in which members of the Afghan Taliban were found killed on Pakistani soil, tell a different story.
The death of three Afghan Taliban members on 20 January 2020 in a bomb explosion in a mosque in Kuchlak region; the killing of Mir Jaan, an Afghan Maulvi on 19 August 2019 in Chagai region of Balochistan; the death Hafiz Ahmadullah, brother of a Taliban leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada in a bomb explosion in a Madrassa in Qasim village of Kuchlak are just some of the indicators that the Taliban continue to find safe haven in Pakistan.
According to local sources, the Afghan Taliban have been collecting funds in an organised manner in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh as well.
Locals maintain that the JeM also has a base in Quetta, which is utilized for its Afghan operations, carried out largely in Ghazi via Chaman.
In Afghanistan, it has set up bases in Kandahar and in the north of Helmand province. JeM’s cadres are currently active in Ghazni (Logar, Nawa), Geelan, Helmand (Sangin, Marja) and Nangarhar (Kot, Momandara ) areas of Afghanistan. The world community, starting from FATF, should definitely take notice of it.